Research and Development:

Lessons Learned from Previous Research Could Benefit FreedomCAR Initiative

GAO-02-810T: Published: Jun 6, 2002. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 2002.

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The federal government has spent billions of dollars attempting to reduce the consumption of petroleum in the transportation sector for over 25 years. Throughout the period, the government has tried tax incentives, mandates to use vehicles that run on alternative fuels, and laws designed to enhance fuel efficiency. More recently, the federal government conducted a $1.2 billion partnership between industry and government, the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle, to develop a highly fuel-efficient car. The administration has proposed a new initiative, known as FreedomCAR, focused on developing hydrogen fuel cells that will provide the technology necessary to create cars and trucks that do not require petroleum and have no polluting emissions--without sacrificing safety or convenience. FreedomCAR will operate as a cooperative research effort between the Department of Energy and General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, and the Ford Motor Company. The FreedomCAR initiative should make sure that it (1) performs research that private industry would not do on its own, (2) specifies a clear and measurable goal, (3) devises a strategy to directly address that goal, and (4) considers whether consumers will buy the products resulting from the research and development.

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