FINDLAY, OHIO - The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has awarded Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. a $1.5 million grant for the development of advanced fuel efficiency technologies during the next three years, according to Modern Tire Dealer.

The grant was one of only five awarded by the DOE in the Fleet Efficiency category. The category calls for the development of an ultra-lightweight tire that delivers a minimum of 3-percent improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency.

"We are excited about the opportunity to further accelerate our development of innovative technologies that brings significant improvements in fuel efficiency to the market while increasing overall customer value," says Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper's vice president of global technology. "This is an important step in the effort to reduce our national energy dependence on foreign sources of oil and raw materials."

Cooper says it will use this funding to accelerate the development and refinement of innovative tire design, construction, materials and reinforcement technologies focused on the replacement tire market. The grant will allow the company to further enhance its technical capabilities and product offerings.

Cooper will partner with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL researches and develops renewable energy and energy efficiency. Development of this new technology will be carried out in Cooper's Findlay, Ohio-based technical center, and plants in the United States.

"This grant accentuates a renewed commitment and emphasis by Cooper to leverage our technical capabilities," says Yurkovich. "Ultimately this will bring increased value and benefits to end-users. It presents us with the opportunity to expand our efforts beyond traditional areas and ultimately to bring new lightweight fuel efficient products to the public much more rapidly."

Cooper's aggressive new product development was illustrated recently with the launch of a record number of new products in 2011, including the Cooper Zeon RS3-A ultra-high performance tire. This tire was recently recognized by Consumer Reports as the best available in the market and an excellent consumer value.