The project is slated to last for three years.
The grant is part of a $175-million Energy Dept. program funding 40 such projects "aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of the next generation of vehicles," according to the university.
The research study addresses "eco-driving," according to the university, a feedback system designed to help drivers reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions through improved trip-planning, vehicle maintenance and smoother driving patterns, among other strategies.
Smaller-scale studies, including one at the Riverside campus, have improved fuel economy by 5 to 15 percent, while larger eco-driving programs in Europe and Asia have identified 20-percent improvements in Europe and Asia, according to the university.
By integrating driver feedback technology, it is expected that overall fuel savings will range from 10 percent to 30 percent, the university said in a statement.
"This grant allows us to go beyond small, anecdotal studies to show, on a large scale, the significant positive economic and environmental impacts of eco-driving principles and the value of feedback systems," said Matthew Barth, the principal investigator on the project and the director of UC Riverside's Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the Bourns College of Engineering.
The project is one of 40 being funded through a more than $175 million Department of Energy program aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of the next generation of vehicles. The projects will help insure the technologies are available to help automakers achieve new fuel efficiency standards.
President Obama announced in July that automakers will be required to increase fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
On Tuesday, Obama announced the first-of-a-kind fuel-efficiency standards for commercial trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles. Fuel consumption will have to be cut by 10 to 20 percent by 2018.