Sequestration or no sequestration, Washington is investing another $50 million in electric vehicles and hybrid electric cars, with the goal of making them as affordable to own and operate as today's gas-powered vehicles.

The funding by the Department of Energy is in support of its EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, the goal of which is to speed up the development of advanced plug-in vehicle technologies to improve both fuel economy and performance by 2022. The other goals, of course, are to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gasses – oil by 80 percent and emissions by 60 percent – according to the Department of Transportation.

The investment covers research and development of low-cost batteries, advanced power electronics and electric motors, plus test models and simulation tools to predict the performance of advanced conventional and electric-drive vehicle systems.

The US Army also is kicking in $3.5 million for R&D that has military potential. Specific research projects included in the funding are advanced lightweight and propulsion materials, battery development, power electronics, HVAC systems and fuels and lubricants. DOT is accepting applications from industry, national laboratories and universities for the research grants.

Since plug-in vehicles work way better with places to plug them in, another part of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is increasing the number of charging stations, including encouraging corporations to install units in employee parking lots. That program is called the Workplace Charging Challenge. Participants include Google and Dell, along with auto manufacturers Chrysler, Ford, GM, Nissan and Tesla.
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Energy Department Offers $50 Million to Advance PEV Technologies

The Energy Department on March 8 announced more than $50 million in funding for new projects that will accelerate the development of advanced plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies to improve vehicle fuel economy and performance. This new funding supports the Energy Department's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which aims to make PEVs as affordable to own and operate as today's gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years and will help to advance the technology goals outlined in the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The Department will select new research projects that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components and develop models and tools to predict these vehicles' performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects that cover 12 areas of interest across five major areas of research and development, including: advanced light-weight and propulsion materials; battery development; power electronics; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; and fuels and lubricants.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army, the Army is contributing $3.5 million in co-funding in several areas where there are joint development opportunities. The Energy Department will accept applications from industry, national laboratories, and university-led teams to address these challenges and enable technologies that will drive innovation in vehicle design. See the Energy Department Progress Alert, the Vehicle Technologies Office website, and the funding announcement.

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