by John Major
VP, Government Relations
Achates Power remarks for NHTSA/EPS hearing on fuel economy standards. Dearborn, Michigan. September 25, 2018. John S. Major Jr., Vice President, Achates Power
In 2007, the US passed the first increase in fuel economy standards since their inception in 1975. Targeting a fleet wide 35 mpg by 2020, Americans would save $22 billion and enjoy an emissions reduction equivalent to removing 28 million cars from the road.
In the 11 years since, the auto industry has boomed. Record volumes and profits were common. Some of the changes the industry experienced were more nuanced; suppliers that were traditionally bound to one OEM or to regional OEMs evolved and became global players in their own rite. Their technology investments, in some cases, rivaled the OEMs that they served, and much of this investment hinged on a long term and stable understanding of fuel economy goals. From electric vehicles, to plug in hybrids, to 48V, cylinder shutoff, waste heat recovery, to a plethora of advanced engines, the industry invested in American innovation, technology, and jobs, in the framework of standards that allowed them to carefully plan and deploy these technologies into market.
Achates Power knows because we are the world leader in the development of one such advanced engine technology, the Opposed-Piston Engine. The Opposed-Piston Engine has been proven with measured, peer-reviewed results to meet the most demanding tailpipe emissions standards with very high efficiency. Recent OP Gasoline Compression Ignition results demonstrate that the engine is capable of double-digit efficiency improvements over the state of the art engines. And while the OP Engine itself sets a new baseline for efficiency and emissions, virtually everything being done to optimize and enhance four-stroke engine performance can also be applied to this superior architecture of IC Engine. It is practical, and our light-duty engine has been packaged in a drivable F-150 demonstrator that will achieve a CAFE combined 37 mpg. Our heavy-duty engine is destined for demonstration in a class 8 Peterbilt line haul truck in late 2019, and will achieve 0.02 ultra-low NOx in parallel with a 15% CO2 reduction from 2017 requirements, 10% lower than 2027 heavy duty CO2 requirements. It can be designed to meet all industry durability requirements, and, at 30% fewer parts than a comparable four-stroke engine, it will have a cost advantage at scale.
Achates Power employs 100 people headquartered in San Diego with a customer application office in metro Detroit. We’ve spent $200 million developing our technology over the last 15 years, and we are but one example. A rollback of the standards threatens to disrupt the progress that has been made over the last decade, and will directly cause the loss of American jobs, investment, and technological leadership as the production revenue needed to recoup these investments will not be realized.
A chorus of industry voices shares this view. The Alliance for Vehicle Efficiency, of which Achates Power is a member, is a group of major propulsion and after-treatment tier 1 automotive suppliers, who believe strongly that technology neutral efficiency standards drive innovation, investment, and American jobs. Regulation shouldn’t seek to pick “winners and losers” in technology; it should highlight what climate, public health, and national security goals need to be achieved. The market will select the technology to cost-effectively achieve those goals. It is especially critical that technology pathways not be cut off due to an investment focus on any one technology.
Our engine is not a silver bullet for solving these complex problems. There is no silver bullet. There are only planks in the platform that is future mobility, and it will take meaningful, achievable, and technology neutral standards that are proven to drive American investment, technological leadership, and jobs to chart our path for a robust future.