David Sandalow, an official with the U.S. Department of Energy, told an SAE 2011 World Congress audience that the transportation sector cannot continue to dine on a petroleum-only diet.
Sandalow, the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at DOE, said the global transportation fleet's reliance on one fuel, petroleum, remains a hard-to-break habit with economic consequences.
"The United State of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security, on a resource that will eventually run out. Not anymore," Sandalow said, repeating a statement made by President Barack Obama at Georgetown University in March.
In his April 13 keynote speech in Detroit's Cobo Center, Sandalow said partnerships between government and business are vital to steering consumers toward alternative fuels and technologies.
As an example, the National Clean Fleets Partnership is a new initiative in which technical experts from national laboratories assist fleet customers in finding ways to reduce fuel consumption. The expectation, according to Sandalow, is that the initial fuel savings on a collective basis will be 7 million gal (26 million L).
AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS, and Verizon are the first companies to participate in the fuel-reduction effort that spotlights electric vehicles and alternative fuels. The companies represent five of the ten largest national fleets with more than 275,000 vehicles, according to Sandalow.
The U.S. government is also on a mission to reduce its own petroleum-fueled vehicle fleet. According to Sandalow, President Obama has given a directive that by 2015 all vehicles purchased by the federal government be alternative-fuel automobiles.
With more electrified vehicle choices in the marketplace, the pursuit of clean energy sources is gaining additional relevance. "The real win is when you can plug vehicles into clean, low-carbon, low-particulate-emissions electric energy sources. We're paying lots of attention, for a number of reasons, to clean electricity," said Sandalow.
Electric powertrains, advanced battery systems, and next-generation control systems are the centerpiece of EcoCAR 2, a just-launched three-year collegiate engineering competition with public and private sponsors.
The challenge for each team is to reduce the environmental impact of a General Motors-donated 2013 Chevrolet Malibu without compromising the car's performance, safety, or consumer acceptability. Each team will follow a work cadence that is modeled after GM's Vehicle Development Process.
Karl Stracke, CEO of Opel/Vauxhall at General Motors Co. and the SAE 2011 World Congress General Chair, joined Sandalow in announcing the 16 EcoCAR 2 competitors.
In addition to headline sponsorship by the U.S DOE and GM, EcoCAR 2's diamond sponsors are Natural Resources Canada, MathWorks, California Air Resources Board, and Clean Cities. Platinum sponsors are dSpace, Inc., A123 Systems, Inc., Freescale Semiconductor, and AVL Powertrain Engineering, Inc.
Gold sponsors are Snap-On Tools, Robert Bosch, LLC, while bronze sponsors are Siemens PLM Software, CD-Adapco, and Vector CANtech.