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Advanced Vehicle Technology Act

On September 16th, the House passed the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act (HR 3246) which strengthens and reauthorizes the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program -- investing in a diverse range of near-term and long-term vehicle technologies that will improve fuel efficiency, support domestic research and manufacturing, and lead to greater consumer choice of vehicle technologies and fuels.

American innovation must bring about new vehicle technologies to reduce our dependence on petroleum, reduce dangerous C02 emissions by vehicles, and strengthen our economy and protect American jobs. This bipartisan bill authorizes $550 million per year for the next five years (increasing with inflation) for all vehicle technology programs at the Department of Energy.  Of that total, $200 million will be for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles, $30 million will be for user facilities and $20 million will be for a non-road pilot program (e.g., construction and agricultural vehicles).  The remaining $300 million will go toward diverse passenger and commercial vehicle technologies, such as the hybridization or full electrification of vehicle systems to reduce gasoline use. 

Investing in research and development of advanced vehicle technologies will help our auto companies emerge from the global economic crisis and increase their global competitiveness.  This legislation will help ensure the cars of the future are built here in the U.S., creating good paying jobs and reducing our dependence on oil.

America can develop the new cutting-edge, commercially viable vehicle technologies of the future by making long-term sustained investments in comprehensive research and development focusing on a broad range of areas (from near-commercial technologies to exploratory research) in partnership with automobile manufacturers, engine and other vehicle component manufacturers, fuel companies, and energy suppliers and utilities. 

The bill is endorsed by General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, the United Autoworkers, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, Daimler, Magna International, Delphi, ArvinMeritor, Robert Bosch LLC, Caterpillar, Dueco Odyne, Achates Power, EcoMotors, the Engine Manufacturers Association, the Connected Vehicle Trade Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Natural Resources Defense Council, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This bill reauthorizes an Energy Department vehicle technology research and development program. The program would be designed to study materials, technologies and processes that could reduce car and truck petroleum usage and related emissions.

Research & Development Program

The bill stipulates that the program include development of specific technologies, such as hybrid or fully-electrified vehicle propulsion systems, hydrogen fuel cells, battery technologies, engine energy efficiency technologies, waste heat recovery systems, friction and wear reduction technologies, increased engine durability, and other technologies at the department's discretion.

The measure specifies that the program be conducted in cooperation with automobile manufacturers, transit vehicle manufacturers, engine and other vehicle component manufacturers, vehicle service providers, fuel companies, energy suppliers and utilities, universities, national and independent research laboratories, and state and local government agencies.

Heavy-Duty Vehicles

The bill establishes a grant program for research and development projects to increase the efficiency and reduce the emissions of medium- to heavy-duty commercial and transit vehicles. It also requires the Energy Department to appoint a director to coordinate medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicle technology programs. 

The measure further establishes a pilot program to increase the efficiency of non-road vehicles, such as construction and agricultural vehicles.

Section-by-Section

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
SEC. 2. FINDINGS - The transportation sector accounts for a significant portion of energy use and emissions; the U.S. is overly dependent on foreign oil; heavy vehicle fuel consumption will grow; vehicle manufacturers have limited resources for R&D; engine and component manufacturers play an important role in technology development; DOE priorities have shifted; vehicle connectivity can improve efficiency; federal R&D programs should be better balanced.
SEC. 3. OBJECTIVES - Objectives are to develop technologies that improve vehicle efficiency, emissions, and reliance on petroleum; support vehicle manufacturing in the U.S; develop cost-effective vehicle technologies; enhance performance; allow for greater consumer choice; shorten technology penetration time; ensure balance and diversity of R&D; and strengthen public-private R&D partnerships.
SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS - Defines 'Department' and 'Secretary'
SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS - Authorizes approximately $550 million/year for all vehicle R&D programs at the Department, increasing over 5 years.  Of that, annually, approximately $200 million is for the Medium and Heavy Duty Commercial Vehicles programs, $30 million is for User Facilities, and $20 million is for a Non-Road Pilot Program.

TITLE I - VEHICLE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
SEC. 101. PROGRAM.  Instructs the Secretary to: 
(a) conduct research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities on a range  of advanced vehicle materials, technologies, and processes in areas such as: electrification; batteries and energy storage devices; manufacturing; hydrogen; aerodynamics; weight reduction; innovative propulsion systems; compatibility with non-petroleum fuels; refueling and charging infrastructure; and other areas as determined by the Secretary.
(b) maintain programs in mid-to-long term transformational vehicle technologies.
(c) partner with a wide range of entities, streamline technology transfer mechanisms; utilize existing or former manufacturing facilities; and seek to ensure technologies are produced in the U.S.
(d) coordinate activities between relevant Departmental programs and offices, and other federal agencies.
(e) avoid duplication of activities to the maximum extent practicable.
(f) provide information to other agencies for demonstrations.
(g) support and utilize State and Local government initiatives in advanced vehicle technology development.
SEC. 102. SENSING AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES - Instructs the Secretary to coordinate with agencies in the development of sensing, communications, and actuation technologies.
SEC. 103. MANUFACTURING - Instructs the Secretary to develop vehicle manufacturing technologies and processes
SEC. 104. USER FACILITIES - Allows the Secretary to construct, expand, or modify facilities for testing and simulation

TITLE II - MEDIUM AND HEAVY DUTY COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
SEC. 201. PROGRAM.  Instructs the Secretary to:
(a)  carry out a collaborative medium-to-heavy duty vehicle technology development partnership with a variety of industry and federal agency partners, in areas such as: engine efficiency; waste heat recovery; aerodynamics; hybridization and electrification; drivetrains;parasitic energy loss; sensing and communications; recharging infrastructure; retrofitting of existing fleets; and integration of multiple technologies onto a single platform.
(b) appoint a director for medium-to-heavy duty truck technology development programs.
(c) provide a report describing the program activities, partners, and progress, and proposing a strategic plan.
SEC. 202. CLASS 8 TRUCK AND TRAILER SYSTEMS DEMONSTRATIONS - Authorizes demonstration of the integration of multiple advanced technologies on truck and trailer platforms.
SEC. 203. TECHNOLOGY TESTING AND METRICS- Authorizes development of standard testing procedures and metrics for specific operating conditions. 
SEC. 204. NONROAD SYSTEMS PILOT PROGRAM - Authorizes the Secretary to undertake a pilot program in technology development for non-road equipment and to transfer relevant research findings between non-road and on-highway sectors.