May 2000


ORNL injects strong presence at Future Car Congress

ORNL had a strong presence during the first Future Car Conference, held April 2–6 in Arlington, Va.

During the four-day event ORNL researchers made 14 technical presentations in the technologies of materials, battery energy and management, electric and hybrid vehicles, modeling and diesel and ethanol issues. ORNL was also instrumental in bringing off the event.

The congress attracted 865 attendees from 16 countries, representing expertise from government, industry and universities to discuss the future of the automotive industry and new design concepts being researched and tested. Recent automotive technology achievements and future directions of R&D were discussed, as well as issues of environmental impact. It was sponsored by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and administered by the Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE). Technology focus areas included materials, fuel cells, electric and hybrid vehicles, battery and energy management, advanced climate control, advanced vehicles, aerodynamics, modeling, advanced vehicle marketing considerations, and diesel and ethanol issues.

Engineering Technology Division's John McKeever gave a well-attended presentation at the Future Car Congress.
Don Walkowitz of the U.S. Council of Automotive Research praised the Lab’s presentations.

“They were great presentations and good technical content,” Walkowitz said.

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson urged the auto industry to continue research that will lead to even more fuel efficient vehicles in the future. Richardson praised the Partnership For A New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program, of which ORNL plays a major role in the materials area. Richardson cited PNGV as an example of a successful collaboration between the auto industry and government to produce a family sedan that can get 80 miles per gallon without compromising cost, performance or safety. He added that with recent uncertainty in gasoline prices, work to produce even more fuel efficient vehicles must continue.

Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater echoed Richardson’s comments, noting the accomplishments that have been made in recent years through the work of the partnership. He added that the visionaries gathered at the Congress “force all of us to move our minds forward and to embrace new ideas.”

Richardson’s and Slater’s remarks, as well as the Monday morning panel session, were carried live on C-Span.

“Our DOE and USCAR (U.S. Council for Automotive Research) customers spoke highly of the Congress—which makes all of the effort worthwhile and leaves one with a feeling of accomplishment, “ says Ed Grostick, deputy manager of ORNL’s Transportation Technologies program.

The ORNL Transportation Technologies program office planned and implemented the congress for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and subcontracted with SAE to administer the congress. Transportation Technologies is planning and implementing the next Future Car Congress, to be held in the summer or fall of 2002 in Detroit.

“This was a very successful conference,” says DOE’s James Merritt, who oversaw the Arlington event. “The next one will be hard pressed to beat this one.”—Fred Strohl