U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., recently introduced H.R.4106, the Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA), in the House of Representatives. As proposed, the legislation would earmark funds for research and development of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and create truck-specific programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Earlier this year, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced a companion bill in the Senate, with Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as cosponsors. That bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as part of a larger package of energy legislation.
According to NTEA, a big proponent of the legislation, VIA calls for the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office to partner with light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle companies to conduct research that will help advance the future of fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
NTEA says the bill would also require the DOE to conduct a program of basic and applied research, development, engineering, demonstration, and commercial application activities on materials, technologies and processes with the potential to substantially reduce or eliminate petroleum use and emissions of the U.S.’ passenger and commercial vehicles.
“Michigan has always been a leader in the automotive industry, and our vehicle suppliers and manufacturers are already driving the future of high-tech, energy-efficient vehicles,” says Dingell in a press release. “The Vehicle Innovation Act will keep that progress going by building on successful research programs to improve vehicle efficiency – saving consumers money at the pump, improving our energy security and keeping the U.S. and Southeast Michigan at the forefront of vehicle innovation.
“I am proud to work with Senator Peters on this critical legislation that will ensure the cars and trucks of the future continue to be produced here in Michigan,” she adds.
In NTEA’s own release, executive director Steve Carey comments, “For the work truck industry to compete globally and continue to meet the needs of vocational truck users, it will need to employ advanced technologies and deploy more alternatively fueled trucks. The Vehicle Innovation Act will support continued public-private partnerships and drive research that will keep us competitive and help us get more fuel-efficient trucks on the road.”
In addition to NTEA, a wide variety of environmental groups and manufacturers have indicated support for the bill, including the Auto Alliance, Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, UAW, BlueGreen Alliance, League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, American Automotive Policy Council, Electric Drive Transportation Association, Robert Bosch LLC, and Lord Corp.
“Long-term efforts to address our nation’s energy security and environmental concerns will require the mass-market commercialization of advanced technology and alternative fuel vehicles,” says Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Auto Alliance. “Automakers and our suppliers are focused on the introduction and deployment of these fuel-efficient vehicles. This legislation will help support these ongoing efforts as well as the research and design of the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicle technologies. We appreciate Rep. Dingell’s hard work on this important issue.”