DOE Awards Ford, GM, and GE $30 Million to Develop Plug-In Hybrids ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: DOE Awards Ford, GM, and GE $30 Million to Develop Plug-In Hybrids

Monday, June 16, 2008

DOE Awards Ford, GM, and GE $30 Million to Develop Plug-In Hybrids

The DOE is awarding $30 million in grants to GM, Ford and GE (plus partners) to develop Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) capable of traveling 40 miles without recharging. With 70% of the US traveling 40 miles or less every day, the DOE hopes to reduce our oil dependence and will help to advance clean vehicle technologies.

Since each award winner must develop and demonstrate 80 PHEVs over the next three years, the DOE is guaranteeing a small test fleet of plug-ins. But PHEVs are almost a certainty in the next two or three years. Just look at what GM is doing with the Volt.

There are two things that need to happen over the next few years to make PHEVs a true game changer. 1) Battery development and 2) cost cutting. Mind you, those two things could be cut into 1 thing if you just cut costs on advanced battery production.

Press Release Follows:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner today announced up to $30 million in funding over three years for three cost-shared Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) demonstration and development projects. The selected projects will accelerate the development of PHEVs capable of traveling up to 40 miles without recharging, which includes most daily roundtrip commutes and satisfies 70 percent of the average daily travel in the U. S. The projects will also address critical barriers to achieving DOE’s goal of making PHEVs cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2016.

“The projects announced today demonstrate a shared public-private sector commitment to advance clean vehicle technologies and will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil while also confronting the serious challenge of global climate change,” DOE Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner said. “The Department remains committed to the research, development and deployment of cleaner, more efficient vehicle options for consumers from laboratory to the street.”

Assistant Secretary Karsner made today’s announcements at the Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington? conference, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and The projects selected will be developed between Fiscal Years 2008-11 and demonstrated in geographically diverse regions to identify performance, operation, and fuel economy in a real-world environment. The goal is to develop PHEVs that can be mass produced, compete effectively in the marketplace, and substantially reduce petroleum consumption by offering fuel flexibility to American consumers. DOE’s funding for these projects, which is subject to Congressional appropriations, will be combined with an industry cost share of 50 percent.

In addition to announced projects, DOE expanded its own fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles with the addition of a Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid Flex-Fuel Vehicle, capable of running on E85, 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline. This vehicle demonstrates the capacity of flexible fuel technology to reduce petroleum use to almost zero. This Ford Escape flexible fuel PHEV when refueling only on cellulosic E85 or electricity would consume less than 75 gallons of gasoline per year – the equivalent of over 150 mpg - and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 93 percent. The Department’s new Ford Escape will be used to transport DOE employees to official events and meetings in the Washington, D.C. area.

PHEVs are hybrid vehicles that can be driven in electric-only or hybrid modes and recharged from a standard electric outlet. They offer increased energy efficiency and decreased petroleum consumption by using electricity as the primary fuel for urban driving. This is the first round of selections under DOE’s PHEV Technology Acceleration and Deployment Activity funding opportunity announcement. A second round of applications is due July 18, 2008. The following three projects were selected:

General Motors has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project aimed at enhancement of Lithium-Ion battery packs, charging systems, powertrain development, vehicle integration, and vehicle validation. Following development, the PHEVs will be deployed over a three year period into a demonstration fleet in three regions of the U.S. Other team members include Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Ford Motor Company has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project to identify a pathway that accelerates commercial mass-production of PHEVs. The project will focus on development of battery systems and deployment of prototype PHEVs. The project will test and demonstrate the propulsion system design, controls, and communications necessary to develop a viable PHEV production program. Team members include Southern California Edison, Electric Power Research Institute, and Johnson Controls-Saft, Inc.

General Electric has been selected for negotiation of an award for a demonstration of PHEVs that relies upon an innovative dual-battery energy storage system capable of 40 miles accumulated electric driving range. The project will focus on developing the dual-battery energy storage system in parallel with vehicle integration. GE is partnering with Chrysler for this project.

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