Improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines is one of the most promising and cost-effective near- to mid-term approaches to increasing highway vehicles' fuel economy. The Vehicle Technologies Office's research and development activities address critical barriers to commercializing higher efficiency, very low emissions advanced internal combustion engines for passenger and commercial vehicles.


The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) undertakes research and development activities to improve the efficiency of engines for both light and heavy-duty highway vehicles, whether they run on petroleum or alternative fuels. We support early-stage R&D to improve understanding of, and ability to manipulate, combustion processes, generating knowledge and insight necessary for industry to develop the next generation of engines that can be co-optimized with high performance fuels. VTO's research focuses on improving engine efficiency while meeting future federal and state emissions regulations through three main approaches:

  • Developing advanced combustion strategies that maximize engine efficiency and minimize the formation of emissions within the engine cylinders
  • Fuels effects research to develop better understanding how fuel properties and composition affect advanced combustion systems.
  • Developing cost-effective aftertreatment technologies that further reduce exhaust emissions

The advanced engine and fuels subprogram supports a number of unique user facilities at the national laboratories. In addition to the national laboratories, research and development is done in collaboration with industry, other federal agencies (such as the National Science Foundation) and universities, as well as through government/industry partnerships: