Key Budgetary Changes in FY 1996


Although PNGV was initiated in 1993, FY 1996 is significant because it is the first real opportunity for the PNGV program to influence the budget priorities of the participating federal agencies. Table 1-5 gives a summary of some of the larger budget changes requested in FY 1996 for federal agency programs. At this writing.

Congress is considering major cuts in programs that make up the PNGV, and few believe that any overall increases for FY 1996 are realistic. Nevertheless, the proposed increases are presented because they represent the government/industry consensus view of the key R&D problems that must be solved to achieve the PNGV goal of a threefold increase in fuel economy.

Changes in FY 1996

27 As might be anticipated, the largest requested increases in FY 1996 are in DOE’s Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Program, which is the cornerstone of the PNGV effort. The areas of increase are high-power energy storage devices, fuel cells, and hybrid systems. Small piston engines and turbines for hybrids are requested for a significant increase at DOE, as are materials for lightweight vehicles.

However, hybrid vehicle and composite materials programs in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) may face large cuts. The priorities reflected in the federal budget request for FY 1996 appear generally consistent with the results of OTA’s technical analysis.

Research needs identified by OTA including the need for improved high-power energy storage systems, more cost-effective ceramic and composite manufacturing processes, and cost reduction of fuel cell systems, are all targeted for increases by DOE.78 The opportunity noted by OTA for using a small, efficient direct injection diesel in a hybrid vehicle is also part of additional finding requested by DOE and EPA in FY 1996.


The finding priorities also tend to support recent statements by observers of PNGV that the most likely configuration of the PNGV prototype vehicle is a hybrid, powered in the near term by a piston engine, and in the longer term perhaps by a fuel cell. There are significant increases for contracts on hybrid energy storage devices, hybrid systems (including a hybrid development team at Chrysler), and fuel cells.

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