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Advanced Vehicle R&D Projects Get $175 Million from Energy Department

The U.S. Department of Energy announced last month that it was providing $175 million for the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies to help ensure automakers are able to meet new and ambitious fuel efficiency standards recently announced for cars, light trucks and commercial vehicles.

The funds will support 40 fuel efficiency projects in 15 states and will target new innovations throughout the vehicle, including improved fuels and lubricants, more efficient engine technologies, longer-lasting and less expensive vehicle batteries and components, lighter weight materials and other next generation advancements, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement.

The historic fuel efficiency standards announced in July by President Barack Obama require the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to reach 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. According to Chu, the new standards for cars and light trucks, combined with measures previously enacted by the administration, will save U.S. families a total of $1.7 trillion in fuel costs by 2025 and result in average fuel savings of over $8,000 per vehicle over a typical vehicle’s lifetime.

Additionally, the standards are expected to cut oil consumption by 12 billion barrels between now and 2025 — while daily oil consumption is expected to decrease by 2.2 million barrels  — and prevent 6 million tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

New fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy duty vehicles that will be implemented from 2014–2018 will save U.S. businesses that operate commercial vehicles $50 billion during the five-year period.

The commercial vehicle standards are also expected to save more than 500 million barrels of oil between 2014 and 2018 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

The companies that receive the $175 million in advanced vehicle research and development funds will add their own additional investments, bringing the total expenditure on fuel efficiency projects to more than $300 million.

The Department of Energy said that the advanced vehicle funds would be divided among 40 projects in eight categories:

  • 8 projects for advanced fuels and lubricants that will allow for the optimal performance of advanced combustion engines
  • 5 projects for lightweight materials that would make lighter weight vehicles more commercially available while maintaining the highest safety standards
  • 2 projects for lightweight multi-material vehicle prototypes that involve the design, construction and testing of a vehicle that’s 50 percent lighter than a standard light-duty vehicle
  • 12 projects for advanced cells and design technology to develop batteries for electric vehicles that significantly exceed the current state-of-the-art in terms of performance and cost
  • 4 projects for advanced power electronics to develop advanced power inverters and electric motors that meet ambitious performance targets while increasing affordability
  • 3 projects for thermoelectric and enabling engine technology that will improve the efficiency of devices that convert engine waste heat to electricity
  • 5 projects for fleet efficiency that will develop fuel-efficient tire and driver feedback technologies
  • 1 project for advanced vehicle testing and evaluation involving the laboratory and field testing of advanced technology vehicles and related infrastructures

Sources

“President Obama Announces Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standard,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, July 29, 2011.

“White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, Aug. 9, 2011.

“Department of Energy Awards More Than $175 Million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development,” U.S. Department of Energy, Aug. 10, 2011.

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