From Edmunds Green Car Advisor

The Obama Administration today awarded $187 million in grants for programs designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

About two-thirds, or $116 million, is earmarked for improvements to heavy-duty trucks made by Cummins, Navistar and Daimler Trucks North America.

Modern diesel trucks will see fuel economy increases, emissions reductions from programs funded by new DOT fuel efficiency grants.

With matching investments from private companies, about $375 million in research will be funded.

The portion of the federal fuel efficiency grants to be used to improve gas mileage for long-haul freight trucks by improving aerodynamics, engine-idling efficiency and powertrains will help create more than 6,000 manufacturing and assembly jobs over the next five years, the U.S. Energy Department said.

Today's award also included $71 million--including $30 million to be divided evenly between Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. and $8 million for General Motors--to be used to help boost passenger-vehicle efficiency.

Automakers must increase fuel economy by as much as 40 percent within the next five years after the Obama Administration last year unveiled a new average fuel efficiency standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 for new passenger vehicles.

"Improving the efficiency of our vehicles is critical to reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and addressing climate change," said Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu.

"Today's awards will help demonstrate the potential benefits for long-haul trucks and passenger vehicles and will play an important role in building a more sustainable transportation system for the country."

Last September, the House passed a bill authorizing $2.9 billion to the Energy Department to boost government-led research into making cars and trucks more fuel-efficient over a five-year period.

The bill, designed to push the government to team up with companies and universities to conduct research on technologies such as batteries for hybrid vehicles, electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells and infrastructure for the electric grid, also allowed the Energy Department to spend up to $200 million more each year on research and development for advanced-technology vehicles and auto parts.

Nonprofit diesel-fuel advocacy group Diesel Technology Form called today's award a "wise public investment," adding that diesel engines--for trucks and passenger vehicles--have undergone a "complete environmental transformation to compete in the future."

Copyright Edmunds.com. All Rights Reserved.



More From Edmunds.com