DOE to Award $187 Million to Improve Car and Truck Fuel Efficiency

January 13, 2010

DOE announced on January 11 that it will award more than $187 million, including $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, to nine projects to improve fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles. With a private cost share of 50%, the funding will support nearly $375 million in research, development, and demonstration projects across the country. Currently, the transportation sector accounts for 28% of total U.S. energy use, and by 2030, these new vehicle technologies could save more than 100 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel per day, reducing carbon emissions from on-road vehicles by 20%.

Photo of two large, heavy-duty truck cabs.

Peterbilt recently introduced aerodynamic versions of two of its highway trucks, providing an estimated 12% fuel savings. Under the new DOE funding, Cummins will add new fuel-saving technologies to one of Peterbilt's aerodynamic tractor-trailers.
Credit: Peterbilt

Three of the nine projects will focus on cost-effective measures to improve the efficiency of Class 8 long-haul freight trucks by 50%. These projects will receive more than $115 million in funding to develop and demonstrate systems-level fuel efficiency technologies by 2015, including technologies to improve aerodynamics, reduce engine idling, recover waste heat to increase engine efficiency, achieve improved combustion, and incorporate hybrid electric systems into truck powertrains. For example, Cummins Inc. will get nearly $38 million to build a highly efficient and clean diesel engine, an advanced waste heat recovery system, an aerodynamic Peterbilt tractor and trailer combination, and a fuel cell auxiliary power unit to reduce engine idling.

The remaining six projects, totaling more than $71 million, will support efforts to increase the fuel economy of passenger vehicle engines and powertrain systems. The goal is to develop engine technologies that, on their own, will improve the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by 25%-40% by 2015. In this area, Ford Motor Company will receive $15 million to achieve a 25% fuel economy improvement with a gasoline engine in a 2010 sedan using such approaches as engine downsizing, turbocharging, direct injection, and a novel exhaust aftertreatment system. Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Corporation will also receive awards. See the DOE press release.