Powertrain Innovations Workshop

ARPA-E held a workshop on Powertrain Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on May 14 and 15, 2015 in Denver, CO. This workshop convened experts from various fields and affiliations (including OEM, suppliers, national labs, academia and oil companies) to consider the development of future high efficiency light- and heavy-duty vehicle powertrains for connected, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous (driverless) vehicles.

Even beyond 2030, the majority of vehicles in the US will continue to be engine-powered, either in conventional or hybrid configurations. As a result the light and heavy duty vehicle fleet will continue to consume about 30EJ of primary fuel energy, including substantial volumes of imported oil. Currently, each 10% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency corresponds to a ~3% reduction in primary energy usage in the United States, with concomitant GHG emissions reductions.

Advances in automated driving and vehicle connectivity (V2V, V2I, V2x) will in the near future allow for the widespread deployment of semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous (driverless) vehicles. It is generally assumed that such autonomous vehicles will be EVs, but pure EVs will continue to comprise only a small fraction of all vehicles in the 2030 timeframe. As a result a large number of connected or autonomous vehicles will utilize combustion engines in conventional or hybrid powertrains. Semi- or fully-autonomous operation takes the driver out of the loop with respect to engine control and vehicle operation, while also potentially allowing for more fuel efficient drivetrains and more energy efficient operation overall.  ARPA-E is interested in fuel efficient technologies for vehicles that take advantage of current and future vehicle connectivity and semi- or fully-autonomous operation, on a fuel-agnostic basis. 

Areas of interest for this workshop and primary objectives of the workshop included:

  • Powertrain architecture and hardware: the identification of advanced engine and powertrain technologies that will improve future vehicle fuel economy under real-world driving conditions; and
  • Powertrain control technologies: the identification of advanced engine and powertrain control technologies and strategies that take advantage, on an individual vehicle basis, of vehicle connectivity and/or semi- and fully-autonomous operation to improve fuel efficiency.

A summary of the event and presentation slides are available below. 

Start Time



Day 1



Tim Heidel, ARPA-E

Welcome and Opening Remarks


Chris Atkinson, ARPA-E

Powertrain Innovations in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles 


John DeCicco, University of Michigan

Plenary: Vehicle of the Future


Derek Caveney, Toyota Technical Center

Plenary: Connected and Automated Vehicles


Chris Hennessy, IAV

Plenary: Powertrain Architecture Definition for Connected Vehicles


Breakout Session

Information, Connectivity and Controls – Impact on Fuel Efficiency


Tim Johnson, Corning

Plenary: Future Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Efficiency 


Gary Bishop, University of Denver 

Plenary: Real-World Vehicle Emissions Measurement

Day 2 


8:00Chris Atkinson, ARPA-EWelcome and Introduction to Day 2

8:15Nate Gorence, ARPA-ETechnology-to-Market Introduction

8:30Dean Tomazic, FEV Plenary: Powertrain of the Future

10:30Li Jiang, Robert Bosch LLCPlenary: Powertrain Controls Technologies 

11:00Breakout SessionPowertrain Hardware Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles