Affordable 'three-liter' cars that appeal to American buyers by 2004? It will not happen. That is the verdict from an expert panel reviewing the work of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a joint program of the U.S. government, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.
The partnership had been charged with developing a vehicle that would get approximately 33 km/l, in industry parlance a 'three liter' car because it would go 100 kilometers on three liters of fuel. But that effort 'faces significant barriers of cost, emissions and fuel infrastructure,' the panel said. The consortium's desire will run afoul of tough new clean air rules that take effect in 204. Those rules will force it to consider other internal-combustion engines that are not as efficient as diesels. The panel also suggested use of lightweight steel bodies as an alternative to the more costly aluminum and composite structures favored by the partnership.
The report follows a negative assessment by the General Accounting Office, which does research for Congress. It quoted 'Senior industry representatives' as saying the three-liter car 'is unlikely to be manufactured for the general public at a cost that is competitive with conventional vehicles in the near future.'