I noticed this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected automotive engineering test solutions provider AVL North America to assist in the creation of an Integrated Battery Cycling System at the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
AVL will provide “a road, vehicle, and driver-simulation environment that enables tests to be defined and executed at a vehicle-maneuver level.” It said the combination of products will enable the EPA to efficiently evaluate a variety of testing standards.
AVL North America Chairman and CEO Don Manvel said the technology “will lead the way for the industry as it turns to ever-renewable sources of energy.”
AVL’s press release noted that President Obama’s goal to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 requires the establishment of standards to guide manufacturers in the production of these vehicles. It also said that historically, technologies certified by the EPA in emissions testing have become the benchmark for the industry, and it is expected that the same will happen for battery testing now that the EPA is beginning to test batteries for electric vehicles.
A year ago, the EPA and NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) said they expect auto manufacturers will meet 2012-2016 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards through wider adoption of conventional technologies, and some manufacturers may choose to pursue fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles clean diesel engines, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and electric vehicles.
Fuel economy and reduced emissions are worthy goals, in my opinion, and the government through the EPA provides a valuable service to the public in mandating both. The automotive industry has responded to government mandates with innovative technology. For example, developers estimate that electric power steering systems can reduce CO2 emissions by 16 grams per-mile and start/stop technology can reduce emissions by up to 8%.
I’ve not heard anyone complaining about the EPA’s involvement in EV battery testing – at least not yet – but it is, after all, the same EPA that raised the eyebrows of some members of Congress when it proposed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries. Responsible governmental regulation and industry cooperation brings benefits. It’s unfortunate that cooperation these days is such a rare commodity.