A government-industry project to invent a practical battery for electric vehicles is trying to do too much too soon. So concludes a study by a committee of the National Research Council. The U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) was formed in 1991 as an R&D project of the Department of Energy and the three major U.S. automakers. The purpose was to provide increased range and improved performance for electric vehicles "in the latter part of the 1990s." No technology has yet fully met even the midterm goals, the report says, because USABC had "an overly ambitious schedule imposed by regulatory requirements." (See "Nation's charge to electric cars stalls" in this issue.) For copies of "Effectiveness of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium as a Government-Industry Partnership" phone National Academy Press at (800) 624-6242.
As manufacturers add new technologies to their products, designing for compliance becomes more difficult. Prepare for the certification testing process. Otherwise, you increase the risk of discovering a safety issue after a product leaves the assembly line. That will cause significant time-to-market delays, be much costlier to fix, and damage your brand in the eyes of customers.
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