Click above for more shots of the Ford Escape PHEV

In what seems like a convenient answer to Mark Fields' request just yesterday for government assistance for the development of plug-in hybrids, the Department of Energy has just announced that it will be granting up to $30 million for just this type of vehicle. Not that thirty-mill is a small sum or anything, but that amount of money will be spread rather thin, being divided across three separate projects from three different manufacturers. Ford is one of them, while General Motors will receive funding for battery development and Chrysler, in partnership with General Electric, will also get some love.

The end-goal of this funding is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that is capable of traveling 40 miles on electric power alone. The DOE hopes that these specifications can be cost-effective by the year 2014 with vehicles on the road around 2016. We're a little puzzled, however, by the relatively small amount of money being handed out to reach these goals. Hydrogen fuel cell technology has received over four times as much funding and is nowhere near as close to production as PHEVs. Regardless, we look forward to seeing some of these investments bear fruit as soon as possible.

[Source: DOE via Green Car Congress]