WASHINGTON A BMW executive told Congress on Tuesday (March 24) that a U.S. vehicle technology program should focus on a mix of future power trains.
"We need an effective palette of solutions that should include an appropriate mix of vehicles powered by highly
efficient internal combustion engines, powered by batteries and powered by hydrogen," Thomas Baloga, vice president of engineering at BMW of North America, told the House Science energy and environment subcommittee.
Baloga also made a pitch for U.S. R&D funding, noting that BMW employs about 8,000 workers in the U.S. and is investing $1 billion to build a new assembly facility at its Spartanburg, S.C., plant. The new facility is expected to expand capacity there by 50 percent, Baloga said.
"Please allow research funding support for companies like ours that have made investments in manufacturing and jobs in the U.S. even though our global headquarters is not located in America," Baloga told the panel.
The BMW executive also said advanced battery research should be a top priority for the Energy Department's Vehicle Technologies Program.
Baloga also called for contined U.S. funding for on-board hydrogen storage. "Without a developing infrastructure for hydrogen refueling, companies like ours are severely challenged to continue investments into hydrogen-powered vehicles," Baloga said.
"I hope that we will avoid again putting all of our eggs in one technology basket," said Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), chairman of the House panel. Baird also stressed the "importance of balancing a diverse portfolio with sustained funding for longer-term research."