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WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that DOE intends issue $17 million in solicitations to improve automobile efficiency and reduce the United States's dependence on foreign sources of oil.  The funding will be offered as two separate solicitations, one for $14 million to support plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology and another for $3 million for research to improve E-85 engine efficiency.

"President Bush is committed to developing alternative fuels and energy-saving innovations in vehicle technology, not just for concept cars, but for cars that can be publicly available," Assistant Secretary Karsner said. "By improving battery technology and engine efficiency, we can take bold steps towards reducing our reliance on foreign sources of oil."

DOE's FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program will lead the efforts to bring new, more efficient technologies to market with research on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and E85-blended fuel. The $14 million cost-shared solicitation for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery development aims to improve battery performance so that plug-in hybrid vehicles can deliver the 40 miles of electric range required for most roundtrip daily commutes.  DOE has also created a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle test bed at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory; allowing scientists to measure the performance of a vehicle.

The $3 million cost-shared solicitation will support engineering advances to improve the fuel economy of E85 engines and reduce vehicle emissions.  The solicitation also serves to undertake research and development projects that will result in flex-fuel vehicles, which take advantage of the favorable properties of ethanol gasoline blends.  E85 can be used in flex-fuel vehicles and is a gasoline-ethanol blend of motor fuel containing 85% ethanol.  E85 has the highest oxygen content of any fuel available today, allowing it to burn more completely - and cleaner - than conventional gasoline.

The solicitations are subject to Congressional appropriations.

Assistant Secretary Karsner made the announcements at the Washington Auto Show, where he was joined today by senior executives from General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940