On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved the Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA) as part of a broader energy bill that passed, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.
Authored by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., VIA promotes investments in research and development of clean vehicle and advanced safety technologies that will create more fuel-efficient vehicles, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and support domestic auto manufacturers.
“The cars and trucks of the future will be equipped with technology making them safer and more fuel efficient, and we must ensure that the United States leads the way in developing these innovations,” says Peters. “I’m pleased the Senate passed this legislation that will make critical investments in our manufacturing industry, and I urge the House to swiftly approve it so that our auto manufacturers and suppliers can continue developing the next big thing in advanced vehicle technology.”
According to Peters, VIA reauthorizes and modernizes the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, which works with light-duty automobile and medium- and heavy-duty commercial truck manufacturers and suppliers to conduct research and development to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles. Examples of these technologies include mild hybrid, engine down speeding, power pack modeling and testing, advanced boosting systems, hydrogen and natural gas refueling and electric vehicle charging technology. Peters says the legislation also encourages the development and use of vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems.
VIA is supported by a broad coalition of environmental groups and manufacturers, including the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, the BlueGreen Alliance, the Auto Alliance, NTEA – the Association for the Work Truck Industry, the United Auto Workers, the League of Conservation Voters, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the American Automotive Policy Council, the Electric Drive Transportation Association, Robert Bosch LLC, the LORD Corp., Umicore, Bergstrom, Magna International Inc., and Dorman Products, Inc.
“The Auto Alliance commends Senate passage of this comprehensive, bipartisan energy bill that contains many important provisions, including the Vehicle Innovation Act, championed by Sens. Peters, Alexander and Stabenow,” comments Jennifer Thomas, vice president of federal government affairs of the Auto Alliance. “This provision will help speed the proliferation of advanced technology and alternative fuel vehicles.”
The Energy Policy Modernization Act, which includes VIA, now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.