University of Florida Mileage Efficiency Expert Praises Bush Fuel-Cell Powered Vehicles Initiative

Director of UF Fuel Cell Lab also part of peer review committee overseeing original PNGV program.

Published: 18-Jan-2002

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 14 (AScribe Newswire) -- A University of Florida professor who has played a central role in a major government program to create high-mileage vehicles says Wednesday's decision by the Bush administration to shift the emphasis to fuel-cell powered vehicles is the right one.

Vernon Roan, a UF professor of mechanical engineering and director of the UF Fuel Cell Laboratory, is one of 15 members and of a peer review committee overseeing the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. He has also spent the past four years as chairman of the peer review committee's fuel cell committee.

Founded in 1993, the partnership worked with domestic automakers, parts suppliers, government laboratories and universities on technologies aimed at making cars more fuel efficient. One prominent goal was to produce concept cars that could achieve 80 miles a gallon by 2004 and be mass produced. Wednesday's decision abandoned this goal in favor of more long-term development of vehicles powered by fuel cells.

Roan said the decision represents "more of a change in emphasis than direction" since the partnership had already been pursuing fuel cell research. He added that it makes sense to pursue fuel cells in light of Japanese automakers' introduction of hybrid electric-gas cars and other recent developments in the auto industry.

"I think it was the logical thing," he said. "The government can't put resources into a technology which critics will point out is being mass produced by Toyota and Honda. I think government sponsorship should be for high-risk, high-payoff technology, and that's exactly what the fuel cell is."

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