Energy Department funds vehicle efficiency research Share This: UPI 1/23/2014 12:45:39 PM WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Energy Department said it would help advance development of better and cleaner consumer vehicle options with $50 million in funding. The Energy Department unveiled the funding at the annual Washington Auto Show, saying the package would complement a March 2012 pledge to make plug-in electric vehicles more affordable and convenient. "The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers' continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Wednesday. The Energy Department says plug-in electric vehicles are becoming more attractive to consumers. The estimated 100,000 sold last year is twice the number from 2012. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy jointly released the 2014 fuel economy guide for passenger vehicles for the 2014 model year. It said the Chevrolet Spark EV, a subcompact, had the best performance of any class of car for model year 2014 with 119 miles per gallon. The Ford Focus hybrid electric vehicle led in the compact car class with 105 mpg, based on a conversion factor used to convert electricity into fuel economy.