Compiled By Jill Jusko U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and executives of Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG announced on Jan. 8 the formation of an automotive research partnership to develop hydrogen as a primary fuel for cars and trucks. The partnership is between the Department of Energy and the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, an organization formed by Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler that cooperatively engages in precompetitive technology research. The new program, called Freedom CAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) will focus on technologies that enable the mass production of affordable hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles and the infrastructure to support them. It also will continue to support petroleum-dependent technologies that have the potential to dramatically reduce oil consumption and pollution. A formal agreement is expected within the next few months. "This plan is rooted in President Bush's call, issued last May in our national energy plan, to reduce American reliance on foreign oil," Abraham said. Freedom CAR replaces the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles program, a private-public partnership between U.S. automakers and the federal government started in 1993 to develop a fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly vehicle and improve the competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry.