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Bill Summary H.R. 3246

Bill Summary H.R. 3246

Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009 (H.R. 3246)

The House passed H.R. 3246, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act, by a vote of 312–114 in September 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI). Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a companion bill (S. 2843) that recognizes the vital role work trucks play in the economy and environment. This bill would establish funding for a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application of advance technologies in medium- and heavy-duty truck and transit vehicles at the Department of Energy.

H.R. 3246 would authorize the following funds for truck-related programs:

(b) Medium and Heavy Duty Commercial Vehicles — From the amounts authorized under subsection (a), there are authorized to be appropriated for carrying out title II —

(1) $200,000,000 for fiscal year 2010;

(2) $210,000,000 for fiscal year 2011;

(3) $220,000,000 for fiscal year 2012;

(4) $230,000,000 for fiscal year 2013; and

(5) $240,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.

Note: These amounts are from the House bill. The Senate bill does not attach specific dollar amounts.

As the House Committee on Science and Technology noted in its report on H.R. 3246, The power demands on trucks are as varied as the applications, and significant technical hurdles remain in areas such as hybridization. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the entire sector. For example, through the course of an average drive cycle, the charging and discharging of a hybrid system on a refuse truck, with its frequent starts and stops, dumpster lifting and trash compaction, will be considerably different than that of a utility truck which may sit idling in one place for several hours in order to operate the bucket lifting boom and other equipment.”

Also from the Committee report: “…critics contend that previous Administrations have adopted an inconsistent winner-take-all approach to vehicle research where one technology or platform receives the large bulk of funding, only to have funding cut before the programs can reasonably be expected to develop commercially viable technologies. It is argued that what is needed is long-term sustained funding on a broad range of areas from near-commercial technologies to exploratory research on systems with the potential to revolutionize transportation in the U.S.”

Following is a statement from Rep. Peters at the full Committee markup hearing:

“The other thing that is different in this bill than in the past is there is more of a focus on the heavy trucks, the medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which has been part of efforts in the past but it has always been kind of a stepchild. It hasn’t had the kind of attention that it deserves, and if you are looking for your best bang for your dollar, of your research dollar, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to increased efficiency of heavy trucks. This bill now puts focus on that as a direct effort to make sure that we are coordinating those research dollars appropriately and making sure that truck manufacturers get research dollars that they didn’t have before because, again, that is going to be an area where we think we can great efficiencies and lower the cost of transportation to the economy as a whole, so I am certainly very conscious as well of the cost of government being involved in these programs, and to me, this is kind of like seed corn. You want to put in those R&D dollars because you are going to have a great return on your investment.”

Department of Energy Testimony at Senate Committee Hearing in December

H.R. 3246 | Advanced Vehicles Technology Act of 2009

Department-funded research has contributed heavily to the advancement of vehicle technologies. The advanced vehicle technologies in the Department’s research portfolio can significantly reduce petroleum consumption, thereby strengthening our national energy security through both fuel substitution and energy efficiency. For example, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with a 40-mile electric range using cellulosic E85 have the potential to reduce petroleum consumption by as much as 85% compared to conventional gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicles.

The Department is not only developing the technologies to make vehicles more energy-efficient, but is also considering the full life cycle impact of cars on the environment. For example, Department research produced a 40% weight savings on a per-part basis for a mid-sized automobile with the development of quick plastic-forming aluminum. We have also developed technology to reduce commercial vehicles’ engine cradle (structural element that supports the engine) weight by 65–70% using magnesium. Currently, the Department is involved in the commercialization of a process that can salvage nearly all of the plastic in a vehicle (approximately 10% of the average vehicle’s weight), not only preventing landfill waste but also displacing oil and natural gas and reducing the cost of plastics through recycling.

Other examples of technologies developed by the Department and being used by industry include:

Every U.S. hybrid vehicle sold has intellectual property from the Department’s nickel metal hydride battery research, and Chrysler plans to begin production on a Cummins engine incorporating the Department’s technologies which make its internal combustion engine operate cleaner and more efficiently. Lastly, collaborating with New Flyer, the Department co-developed the technology for hybrid transit buses, technology which has migrated to other applications, such as light trucks and crossover vehicles

The Department supports H.R. 3246, as the current Vehicle Technologies Program funding authorization expires at the end of FY 2010. We believe the bill generally covers an appropriate technology portfolio, includes well-placed interest in heavy-duty vehicles and is well aligned with prior-year Program budgets.

Recommendations | The Department agrees with the suite of technologies authorized in H.R. 3246. However, the inclusion of hydrogen and fuel cell activities in H.R. 3246 would result in duplicative authorizations and potential budgetary issues.

Currently, Title VIII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) serves as the authorizing language for the Department’s hydrogen and fuel cell activities, and does not sunset until FY 2020. It is likely that hydrogen and fuel cell activities were included in H.R. 3246’s activity list only because several hydrogen activities were included in the Vehicle Technologies FY 2009 appropriation. However, these activities were moved back to the Fuel Cell Program for FY 2010, and are no longer part of Vehicle Technologies.

Therefore, the Department respectfully requests to continue to rely on EPAct 2005’s authorizations for the Department’s Fuel Cell Program activities. The EPAct 2005 authorizing language provides sufficient authorization for current DOE activities, and removing H.R. 3246’s hydrogen and fuel cell reference would avoid any unintended complications that can result from duplicative authorizations.

H.R. 3246 would enable the Department to build on the Department’s continuing efforts to improve existing vehicle technologies, as well as emphasizing other modes of transportation to significantly reduce passenger and commercial vehicle miles traveled. 

Congressional Research Service Summary of H.R. 3246

SUMMARY AS OF:
9/16/2009 — Passed House.    

Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009 — (Sec. 5) Authorizes appropriations to the Secretary of Energy for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of vehicles and related technologies for FY2010–FY2014.

Title I: Vehicle Research and Development — (Sec. 101) Directs the Secretary to conduct a program of basic and applied research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities on materials, technologies, and processes with the potential to substantially reduce or eliminate petroleum use and emissions of the nation’s passenger and commercial vehicles, including activities in the areas of: (1) hybridization or full electrification of vehicle systems; (2) batteries and other energy storage devices; (3) power electronics; (4) engine efficiency and combustion optimization; (5) waste heat recovery; (6) hydrogen vehicle technologies; (7) reduction of vehicle weight, friction and wear; (8) innovative propulsion systems; (9) hydraulic hybrid technologies; (10) engine compatibility with and optimization for a variety of transportation fuels; (11) infrastructure for alternative fueled and electric or plug-in electric hybrid vehicles, including the unique challenges facing rural areas; (12) gaseous fuels storage system integration and optimization; (13) efficient use and recycling of rare earth materials and reduction of precious metals and other high-cost materials in vehicles; and (14) retrofitting advanced vehicle technologies to existing vehicles.

Directs the Secretary to ensure that the Department of Energy (DOE) continues to support activities and maintains competency in mid- to long-term transformational vehicle technologies with potential to achieve deep reductions in petroleum use and emissions, including activities in the areas of: (1) hydrogen vehicle technology; (2) multiple battery chemistries and novel energy storage devices; and (3) communication and connectivity among vehicles, infrastructure, and the electrical grid.

Requires activities under this Act to be carried out in collaboration with automotive manufacturers, heavy commercial and transit vehicle manufacturers, qualified plug-in electric vehicle manufacturers, vehicle and engine equipment and component manufacturers, manufacturing equipment manufacturers, advanced vehicle service providers, fuel producers and energy suppliers, electric utilities, universities, national laboratories, and independent research laboratories.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) determine whether a wide range of companies that manufacture or assemble vehicles or components in the United States are represented in ongoing public private partnership activities; (2) formalize partnerships with industry-led stakeholder organizations, nonprofit organizations, industry consortia, and trade associations with expertise in advanced automotive and commercial vehicle technologies; (3) develop more efficient processes for transferring research findings and technologies to industry; (4) give consideration to conversion of existing or former vehicle technology manufacturing facilities for researching and developing advanced vehicle technologies and support public-private partnerships dedicated to overcoming barriers in commercial application of transformational vehicle technologies that utilize such industry-led facilities; (5) promote the domestic production of such technologies; (6) coordinate activities between relevant DOE programs and offices and other federal agencies; (7) inform other agencies of the potential for demonstrating technologies funded by this Act; and (8) support and utilize state and local government initiatives in advanced vehicle technology development.

(Sec. 102) Requires the Secretary to conduct research, development and demonstration activities on connectivity of vehicle and transportation systems, including technologies for: (1) onboard vehicle, engine, and component sensing and actuation; (2) vehicle-to-vehicle sensing and communication; (3) vehicle-to-infrastructure sensing and communication; and (4) vehicle integration with the electrical grid.

(Sec. 103) Requires the Secretary to carry out a research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program of advanced vehicle manufacturing technologies and practices, including innovative processes to: (1) increase the production rate and decrease the cost of advanced battery manufacturing; (2) vary the capability of individual manufacturing facilities to accommodate different battery chemistries and configurations; (3) reduce waste streams, emissions and energy-intensity of vehicle, engine, advanced battery and component manufacturing processes; (4) recycle and remanufacture used batteries and other vehicle components for reuse in vehicles or stationary applications; (5) produce cost-effective, lightweight materials such as advanced metal alloys, polymeric composites and carbon fiber; (6) produce lightweight, high-pressure storage systems for gaseous fuels; (7) design and manufacture purpose-built hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles and components; (8) improve the calendar life and cycle life of advanced batteries; and (9) produce permanent magnets for advanced vehicles.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes activities under this Act to include construction, expansion or modification of new and existing vehicle, engine and component research and testing facilities for: (1) testing or simulating interoperability of a variety of vehicle components and systems; (2) subjecting vehicle platforms to fully representative duty cycles and operating conditions; and (3) developing and demonstrating a range of chemistries and configurations for advanced vehicle battery manufacturing and test cycles for new and alternative fuels and other advanced vehicle technologies.

(Sec. 105) Requires the Secretary to report to Congress: (1) annually through 2015 on the technologies developed as a result of this Act, with emphasis on technologies that were successfully adopted for commercial applications and whether those technologies are manufactured in the United States; and (2) annually on activities undertaken, active industry participants, efforts to recruit new participants, progress of the program in meeting goals and timelines, and a strategic plan for funding of activities across agencies.

(Sec. 107) Requires the Secretary to establish an Innovative Automotive Demonstration Program, within the existing Vehicle Technologies Program, to encourage the introduction of new vehicles into the marketplace that are designed in their entirety to achieve very high energy efficiency but still provide the capabilities required by the American consumer. Requires awards to be made under such Program on a competitive basis for demonstration of vehicles that: (1) carry at least four passengers; (2) meet safety requirements; (3) achieve at least 70 miles per gallon or the equivalent on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drive cycle; (4) provide vehicle performance that is acceptable to the consumer; (5) are affordable; (6) use materials and manufacturing processes that minimize environmental impacts; (7) meet all federal and state emission requirements; and (8) provide new high technology engineering and production employment opportunities.

Title II: Medium and Heavy Duty Commercial and Transit Vehicles — (Sec. 201) Requires the Secretary, in partnership with relevant research and development programs in other federal agencies and industry stakeholders, to carry out a program of cooperative research, development, demonstration and commercial application activities on advanced technologies for medium- to heavy-duty commercial, recreational and transit vehicles, including activities in the areas of: (1) engine efficiency and combustion research; (2) on-board storage technologies for compressed and liquefied natural gas; (3) development and integration of engine technologies designed for natural gas operation of a variety of vehicle platforms; (4) waste heat recovery; (5) heavy hybrid, hybrid hydraulic, plug-in hybrid, and electric platforms and energy storage technologies; (6) reduction of friction, wear, and engine idle and parasitic energy loss; (7) advanced lightweight materials and vehicle designs; (8) increasing load capacity per vehicle; (9) recharging infrastructure; (10) hydrogen vehicle technologies; and (11) retrofitting advanced technologies onto existing truck fleets and integration of advanced systems onto a single truck and trailer platform.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) appoint a Director to coordinate such activities in such vehicles; and (2) report annually to Congress on activities, active industry participants, efforts to recruit new participants, progress of the program in meeting goals and timelines and a strategic plan for funding of activities across agencies.

(Sec. 202) Requires the Secretary to: (1) conduct a competitive grant program to demonstrate the integration of multiple advanced technologies on Class 8 truck and trailer platforms with a goal of improving overall freight efficiency by 50%; (2) develop standard testing procedures and technologies for evaluating the performance of advanced heavy vehicle technologies under a range of representative duty cycles and operating conditions; (3) evaluate heavy vehicle performance; and (4) undertake a pilot program of research, development, demonstration and commercial applications of technologies to improve total machine or system efficiency for non-road mobile equipment, including agriculture and construction equipment, and seek opportunities to transfer relevant research findings and technologies between the non-road and on-highway equipment and vehicle sectors.

Authorizes the Secretary to construct heavy-duty truck and bus testing facilities.