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U.S. grants $187M for fuel efficiency research

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration announced on Monday funding for nine projects designed to significantly increase fuel efficiency in heavy trucks and passenger vehicles, with more than half the money coming from the $787 billion stimulus package.

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu detailed the projects during a ceremony in Columbus, Ind., home of Cummins Inc., which is to receive nearly $40 million to develop a more efficient and cleaner diesel engine, a more aerodynamic long-haul truck cab and trailer, and a fuel cell that would deliver auxiliary power to reduce engine idling while the vehicle was not on the road.

Chu said the nine projects will receive $187 million from the federal government, with more than $100 million coming from stimulus funds and the remainder from DOE appropriations. Recipients are expected to match government funding, creating a total investment of $375 million in the projects.

According to the administration, the nine recipients are expected to create more than 500 research, engineering and management jobs, with 6,000 more positions anticipated when the technologies go into production and assembly.

In detailing the project awards, the administration said the new technologies, when in broad use, "could save more than 100 million gallons of gasoline and diesel per day and reduce carbon emissions from on-road vehicles by 20 percent by 2030."

Three of the projects, receiving $115 million, are aimed at improving long-haul truck fuel efficiency by 50 percent, with new designs to be ready by 2015.

In addition to Cummins, Daimler Trucks North America LLC, of Portland, Ore., will receive nearly $40 million, and Navistar Inc., of Fort Wayne, Ind., is in line for $27.3 million.

The remaining six projects for passenger vehicles will spread more than $71 million among Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Delphi Automotive Systems, Robert Bosch and a second Cummins project.

The money will go to companies based in economically hard-hit Michigan and Indiana, with the exception of Daimler Trucks.

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