Clean Transport DOE vehicle efficiency funding

Published on August 15th, 2014 | by Tina Casey


Ford Scoops $6 Mil Out Of $55 Million Vehicle Efficiency Pot

August 15th, 2014 by  

The Energy Department is pitching its new $55 million basket of goodies for advanced vehicle efficiency technology as a wide-ranging effort to benefit many vehicle types, especially battery EVs and hybrids as well as gasmobiles and presumably fuel cell EVs.  Of the 31 projects tapped for funding, the Ford Motor Company alone snared a healthy $6 million for advanced carbon fiber research, so let’s zero in on that and see what’s doing.

DOE vehicle efficiency funding

Image: Courtesy of US Department of Energy.

$55 Million For Vehicle Efficiency

Though the new $55 million round of Energy Department funding has a broad impact on vehicle technology, the main focus is on technologies that support the Obama Administration’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. The ambitious initiative is aimed at getting the US in position to be the first nation in the world where EVs are just as convenient and affordable as gasmobiles. EV Everywhere necessarily involves a significant dose of public-private partnering, so go, team!

The Ford angle is interesting for those of you who followed the Obama Administration’s auto industry bailout after the Great Crash of 2008. Of the Big Three auto makers, Ford famously rejected federal bailout money. CEO Alan Mulally had this to say back in 2010:

I think we’re very much respected for … running a healthy business and not asking for taxpayer money.

Granted, $6 million is nothing compared to the billions that were thrown around for the bailout, but the reality is that Ford has been partnering with publicly funded efforts to position the US auto industry for global competitiveness, and that’s a good thing.

Another recent example is Ford’s recent $2.1 million contribution to a new $8 million EV battery research lab that also received generous Energy Department funding (then there’s that DOE loan program thing, but we digress).

Ford Gets $6 Million For Advanced Carbon Fiber Research

Ford’s $6 million slice of the vehicle efficiency pie is described as a soup-to-nuts project for taking new carbon fiber composites seamlessly from the materials development stage to manufacturing:

This project will develop, integrate and implement predictive models for Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Polymer composites that link the material design, molding process and final performance.

We’re guessing that a global interest in carbon fiber car parts has positioned Ford to take the lead in Energy Department funding. Here’s where Ford’s carbon fiber R&D was heading as of October 2012:

The carbon fibre reinforced plastic Ford Focus bonnet displayed at the Composites Europe event in Dusseldorf, Germany is constructed from the super-strong material usually associated with bespoke racing vehicles or high-performance sports cars.

The prototype bonnet weighs more than 50 percent less than a standard steel version [and] production time for an individual carbon fibre bonnet is fast enough to be employed on a production line…

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. If you’re wondering about the Dusseldorf connection, that’s because the carbon fiber hood (okay, so fibre bonnet if your peeps in Europe are writing the press release) was developed at the Ford European Research Centre (there they go again) in Aachen, Germany.

German taxpayers are footing part of the bill for that project btw. It’s part of the Hightech.NRW research initiative funded by the country’s North Rhine-Westphalia state. But, we digress again.

Many Roads To Vehicle Efficiency

Aside from the carbon-fiber composites angle, Ford has been taking the lead in transitioning its car parts out of steel and other relatively inefficient, energy intensive  and non-renewable sources.

Some other examples include a fiberglass alternative made with renewable cellulose from trees, a dandelion-sourced rubber substitute, and interior parts made with soy foam and recycled carpets, blue jeans, or plastic bottles.

Ford’s interest in aluminum alloy also positions the company to gain from another big winner in the Energy Department’s $55 million pot. Alcoa won a total of almost $5 million for two vehicle efficiency projects involving the development of advanced aluminum and aluminum alloys, including a recycling aspect that will help reduce lifecycle costs.

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Kyle Field

    There must be a tie to BMW with that facility in Germany. All I could think about when reading this was “oh, so we should expect the Ford version of the BMW i3 soon?” I’m still just a bit bummed at ford being so noncommittal to any next gen auto tech…at least chevy has the volt. (and no, the focus EV doesnt count). better late than never?

    • Jan Veselý

      Lighter car parts are win, no matter what is your propulsion.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Why doesn’t the Focus EV count?

      • Kyle Field

        It’s a compliance car…dealers here in california dont have them, aren’t pushing them. Heck, I couldnt even get a test drive in a plug in because they aren’t stocking them.

        • Calamity_Jean

          Well, that stinks. My husband wants one.

  • Jan Veselý

    OK, once again was Amory Lovins 10-15 years ahead. It’s time to win the oil endgame.

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

  • Search the IM Network