U.S. Government Awards $175 Million for Future Car Technologies

By Jacob Brown | August 16, 2011
President Barack Obama announced that the federal government would dole $175 million for future car technologies just days after the economy yo-yoed following the passage of a raised federal debt ceiling. Whittling 40 projects in 15 states down from 400 applicants, the government will fund research projects to help grow technologies designed to help automakers hit the new 54.5 mpg standards by 2025. The president spoke at Johnson Controls' groundbreaking ceremony in Holland, Mich. to mark the occasion. While praising Johnson Controls, builders of next-generation lithium-ion batteries, Obama took most of his 24-minute speech to criticize Congress for its lack of cooperation and subsequent credit downgrading instead of noting more of the upcoming technologies. “Gridlock has undermined public confidence and impeded our efforts to take the steps we need for our economy,” he said.
Obama said that the development in green technologies will add more jobs, though. It is a quickly-growing industry that has emerged from legislation to increase fuel economy, lower vehicle emissions, and bolster reliance on alternative fuels instead of oil from volatile regions in the world. Also included in the funding, Ford is set to receive $2.7 million for research in reducing engine friction, and General Motors will spend $14 million on lower cost components for electric cars and to find a way to convert wasted heat into electric energy. In Back to the Future, something similar was called “Mr. Fusion.” The made-up technology in that movie supposedly came about in 2015, so once again real life may soon imitate art. Opening his speech, Obama reiterated his confidence in U.S. industry in front of the 400 people in attendance and welcomed in the innovation that would surely come from the investment. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” he said. “You cannot bet against the American worker. Don’t bet against American ingenuity.” Sources: Automotive News (Subscription required), Detroit Free Press