U.S. announces $187 million for fuel efficiency

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:00am EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Obama administration plans on Monday to announce the selection of nine projects totaling $187 million aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.

The funding includes more than $100 million from the $787 billion economic stimulus plan President Barack Obama pushed through Congress last February. An additional 50 percent will come from the private sector, according to the announcement to be made by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Columbus, Indiana.

The Obama administration is under pressure to show it is working to create jobs with the U.S. unemployment rate stuck at 10 percent.

The administration estimated the projects would create 500 jobs in areas like research and engineering near term, with the potential for creating 6,000 positions in manufacturing and assembly by 2015.

Three projects will focus on efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of long-haul freight trucks by 50 percent.

The freight-truck awards include:

* $38.8 million for Cummins Inc (CMI.N) in Columbus, Indiana. This project is aimed at developing a clean, efficient diesel engine, an advanced waste heat recovery system, an aerodynamic Peterbilt tractor-trailer combination and a fuel cell auxiliary power unit to reduce engine idling.

* $39.6 million for Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DAIGn.DE). This project in Portland, Oregon will seek to develop technologies including engine downsizing, electrification of auxiliary systems such as oil and water pumps, waste heat recovery, improved aerodynamics and hybridization.

* $37.3 million for Navistar Inc. This Fort Wayne, Indiana project will seek to develop technologies to improve truck and trailer aerodynamics, combustion efficiency, waste heat recovery, hybridization, idle reduction and reduced rolling resistance tires.

Another six projects will be aimed at developing fuel efficiency for passenger vehicle engines and powertrain systems. The goal is to develop engine technologies that will improve the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by 25-40 percent by 2015 using an engine-only approach.

Those include:

* $14.5 million for Chrysler Group LLC. The Auburn Hills, Michigan project will aim to develop a flexible combustion system for their minivan platform based on a downsized, turbocharged engine that uses direct gasoline injection, recirculation of exhaust gases and flexible intake air control to reduce emissions.

* $15 million for Cummins Inc to develop a fuel-efficient, low emissions diesel engine that achieves a 40 percent fuel economy improvement over conventional gasoline technology and significantly exceeds 2010 Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements.

* $7.5 million for Delphi Automotive Systems LLC to develop a novel low-temperature combustion system, coupled with technologies such as continuously variable valve control and engine downspeeding, to improve fuel economy by at least 25 percent.

* $15 million for Ford Motor Co (F.N) in Dearborn, Michigan to achieve a 25 percent fuel economy improvement with a gasoline engine in a 2010 mid- to large-size sedan using technologies including engine downsizing, turbo-charging, direct injection, and a novel exhaust after-treatment system.

* $7.7 million for General Motors Corp [GM.UL] in Pontiac, Michigan to develop an engine that uses lean combustion and active heat management, as well as a novel emissions control system, to improve the fuel economy of a 2010 Malibu demonstration vehicle by 25 percent.

* $12 million for Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL] in Farmington Hills, Michigan to demonstrate a high compression, turbo-charged engine based on homogenous charge compression ignition technology -- a combustion technology that allows for lower emissions and higher efficiency -- to achieve up to 30 percent fuel economy improvement in a gasoline-fueled light-duty vehicle. (Editing by Chris Wilson)

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