The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this month that more than $175 million over the next three to five years will be awarded to projects working to expedite the development and deployment of advanced vehicles. With additional investments provided by grantees, these projects will total over $300 million.

The funding will be appropriated to projects that take on current technology barriers that affect vehicle efficiency. More specific focuses for these projects include advanced fuel lubricants, lighter weight materials, longer-lasting electric vehicle batteries and components, new engine technologies, and other methods that will improve fuel economy. Of the 40 projects being awarded, nine will take place in the state of Michigan. Grant recipients from Michigan include Ford, United States Automotive Materials Partnership, Vehma International of America, Chrysler, DENSO International America, and General Motors.

“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.”

Funding projects that will improve fuel efficiency will help automakers reach the recently announced 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for all cars and light duty trucks. This new standard was built off of the Obama administration’s agreement for model years 2012-2016 vehicles to have a fuel economy of at least 35.5 mpg.

“This is another important step toward saving money for drivers, breaking our dependence on imported oil and cleaning up the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “American consumers are calling for cleaner cars that won’t pollute their air or break their budgets at the gas pump, and our innovative American automakers are responding with plans for some of the most fuel efficient vehicles in our history.”

These new programs will drastically cut fuel costs, dependency on oil, and tailpipe emissions. According to the Obama administration, the combined standards will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs and result in an average fuel savings of over $8,000 per vehicle by the year 2025. In addition to the cost savings, the U.S. will reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels and eliminate six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution over the life of the programs.

In addition to new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, new efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will also be issued. These standards will reduce the fuel consumption of big rigs, heavy-duty trucks, vans, delivery trucks, garbage trucks and buses by 10-20 percent by the year 2018. The exact percentage reduction will be specific to the vehicle. The Obama Administration predicts that the cost to upgrade technologies will be paid back quickly through the savings in fuel costs.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” Obama said in an announcement from the White House. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

More information on new light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicle standards is available on the EPA’s web site.