GM, Ford and Chrysler Get Big Chunk of Advanced-Vehicle Funding

Grants aim to help automakers meet new fuel-efficiency standards for passenger and commercial vehicles.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will receive more than $25 million of a total of $175 million in advanced-vehicle technology funding announced last week by the U.S. Department of Energy.

GM has received $14 million for two projects: $6 million for the development of power-inverter technology; and $8 million for the development of a thermoelectric generator system that would convert waste heat into electric power.

Chrysler has received a $10 million grant for a project aiming to reduce vehicle weight by 50%.

Ford has received a $1.2 million grant for a project that will research alternative engine-oil technology thought to reduce engine friction.

The Detroit Three automakers, along with several dozen other companies, universities and laboratories, will receive the funding over the next three to five years, the Energy Department said, in an effort to "accelerate the development and deployment of advanced-vehicle technologies."

"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," the department said in a news release.

The funds "will help ensure the technologies are available to help automakers achieve recently announced fuel-efficiency standards," the department added.

In July, President Obama unveiled new standards for cars and light trucks that will bring fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by model-year 2025.

Earlier this month, the administration followed up with fuel-efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles .

The funds will leverage additional investments by the grantees to support projects totaling more than $300 million, the department said.

The projects will focus on research and development in eight different areas, including fuels and lubricants; lighter-weight vehicles; advanced-power electronics and electric-motor technology; fleet efficiency; and advanced-vehicle testing and evaluation.

"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," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "Investments in the next generation of autos will strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel-efficient, clean-energy future."

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