A $45.4 million grant for plug-in hybrid vehicles will assist Eaton Corp.’s work with several companies in the deployment of 378 of such vehicles through more than 50 utility and municipal fleets nationwide, the company says.

Eaton will work with grant recipient South Coast Air Quality Management District and other affiliates, including the Electrical Power Research Institute, Altec Industries, Compact Power Inc., Ford Motor Company and Southern California Edison to administer the funds.

In the utility truck application, the plug-in hybrids will be based on the Ford F550 chassis and will have a total range of at least 300 mi., Eaton said. Fuel economy savings of up to 70% with emissions and noise reductions as well are expected.

The grant, part of the $2.4 billion in grants being distributed by the U.S. Dept. of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will also allow Eaton to provide infrastructure support for the electrical charging of the vehicles.

The development and deployment of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and accompanying charging infrastructure will take place over 18 months. Vehicles will be evaluated over a two-year period.

“This funding is an important milestone in the advancement of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and Eaton is pleased to be a recipient,” said Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman & CEO. “By providing our sustainable, energy-saving technologies to power the vehicles as well as the electrical infrastructure support to help keep them running, we believe we can provide Eaton customers with the technology they need to move plug-in hybrids to the next level.”