U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Clean Cities

Department of Energy Awards More Than $175 Million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development

August 10, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced more than $175 million over the next three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies. The funding will support 40 projects across 15 states and will help improve the fuel efficiency of next generation vehicles. The projects will target new innovations throughout the vehicle, including better fuels and lubricants, lighter weight materials, longer-lasting and cheaper electric vehicle batteries and components, more efficient engine technologies, and more. This comprehensive approach to vehicle efficiency research and development will help ensure the technologies are available to help automakers achieve recently announced fuel efficiency standards.

Last month, the President announced historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks which will bring fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by Model Year 2025 and which, combined with steps already taken by this administration, will save American families $1.7 trillion at the pump and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels by 2025. Yesterday, the Administration announced of first-of-their-kind fuel-efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles, which will save American businesses who operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

"The Department of Energy is investing in new advanced technologies that will significantly improve vehicle fuel economy, save consumers money, and create skilled jobs for Americans," said Secretary Chu. "Investments in the next generation of autos will strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel-efficient, clean energy future."

The funds will leverage additional investments by the grantees to support projects totaling more than $300 million. The selections announced today focus on eight approaches to improving vehicle efficiency:

  • Advanced fuels and lubricants: Eight projects awarded to improve fuels and lubricants that will enable optimal performance of advanced combustion engines.
  • Light-weighting materials: Five projects awarded to accelerate commercial availability of lighter weight vehicles using advanced materials that dramatically reduce vehicle weight while maintaining the highest safety standards.
  • Light weight multi-material prototype: Two projects awarded to design, build, and test a light-weight vehicle that is 50% lighter than a baseline light-duty vehicle. These projects are being undertaken as part of the Clean Energy Dialogue with Canada.
  • Advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries: Twelve projects awarded to develop high energy or high power batteries for electric vehicles that should significantly exceed existing state-of-the-art technologies in terms of performance and/or cost.
  • Advanced power electronics and electric motor technology: Four projects awarded to develop the next generation of power inverters and electric motors to meet demanding performance targets while achieving significant cost reductions.
  • Thermoelectric and enabling engine technology: Three projects awarded to improve the efficiency of thermoelectric devices to convert engine waste heat to electricity. Selections of projects to develop early-stage enabling engine technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions are expected in September.
  • Fleet efficiency: Five projects awarded to develop and demonstrate fuel efficient tire and driver feedback technologies that will improve efficiency of the passenger car and commercial fleet.
  • Advanced vehicle testing and evaluation: One project awarded to conduct laboratory and field evaluations of advanced technology vehicles and related infrastructure, while developing new or modified test procedures.

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy currently supports research in electric drive vehicle systems, advanced combustion engines, materials technologies, fuels and lubricants, energy storage, and automotive electronics. The selected projects address key technology barriers to improving vehicle fuel economy, such as lowering the cost of lightweight materials.