By on July 30, 2015


A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting.

The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside $313.6 million next year for research and development of hybrid technology, battery development and alternative fuels such as natural gas. Funding would increase by 4 percent every year up to 2020.

Nearly all major U.S. automotive lobbies representing manufacturers supported the proposal.

The proposal, which will now head to the Senate, faces an extremely difficult future. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Michigan Democrat Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, may be a long shot in the Republican-controlled House — if it makes it that far.

Separately, a bill that Peters introduced that would allow states to use highway funding to help advance road-to-vehicle communications, passed the Senate as part of a larger transportation package. The bill, called the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 says what it does and does what it says will be part of the Senate’s larger 6-year highway funding package.

Along with the Vehicle Innovation Act, the “smart road” provision and larger funding bill won’t be taken up by the House anytime soon. Congress is working toward a 3-month stopgap measure and will take up the larger spending packages after its August recess.

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27 Comments on “Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids...”

  • avatar

    Detroit excells at making big vehicles with sloppy, inefficient, powerful engines.

    Every single mandate from the government only hurts American auto makers and allows foreign automakers – who are forced to focus on efficiency – more powerful and competitive here.

    READ MY LIPS: Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai are nothing more than WEALTH TRANSFER from America to those countries – in the same way that giving away American factories transfered our ability to PRODUCE to Asia.

    320 Million Americans forced to buy every single thing they consume from the slave labor of over 2 Billion.

    • 0 avatar

      “Detroit excells at making big vehicles with sloppy, inefficient, powerful engines.”

      And yet, what Detroit vehicle seems to be accumulating all the reliability points these days? The Chevy Volt.

      Perhaps they have more tricks up their sleeve than building cars you like.

    • 0 avatar

      Buying a UAW-3 car is wealth transfer to the politicians turning us into a workers’ paradise.

    • 0 avatar

      Domestic manufacturers are no longer confined to Detroit & the UAW. Remember, we have one and maybe soon two manufacturers in Silicon Valley.

      • 0 avatar

        Here in Californistan, Tesla is on the receiving end of the graft we pay for in overpriced affordable cars and the invisible tax that makes our gasoline a buck and a half more a gallon than it costs in the south east. They’re no better than GM in hastening the demise of our nation.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Detroit already tried selling big hybrids, if memory serves me right, they were not good at all, lot of money and mechanical complexity just to get a few more MPG’s in city driving where most of these vehicles don’t excel at anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      I think several things worked against the GM hybrid offerings:

      1) Price and packaging – you couldn’t get the hybrid system in the murdered out trims, so the price point was hard to justify on the GMT900 – ironically the price points on the ‘burb and Tahoe are even higher – MUCH higher now. But…

      2) Efficiencies gained by going to 6-speed and 8-speed transmissions and overall engine improvements have made the gains in city MPG incremental.

      Remember, the GMT900 hybrid SUVs could still tow, still offroad, and still do most things a BoF SUV could do. 21 MPG in city for 3 tons of fun (‘burb) with 4WD is feckin’ impressive with V8 power and towing.

      The last nail in the coffin was the economic collapse and the plunge in gasoline prices. People generally didn’t have the appetite to buy $55K SUVs period, and the price of gas made the savings at the pump pointless.

      Had GM put the system on lower trim levels, it may have had some traction. Remember, BMW and Chrysler were onboard with the technology and it was based on the GMC bus hybrid system – so it wasn’t fully engineered from the ground up.

      At this point GM (specifically) is getting darn close to some of those hybrid numbers MPG with a plain old V8 under the hood, and getting even more sticker price. I call that winning.

      I know you say “Detroit,” but Ford never delivered any fullsize hybrids IIRC, and the Dodge versions never saw the light of day with the economic collapse.

      • 0 avatar

        No, there were hybrid versions of the Durango and Aspen; I believe fewer than 1,000 were built, combined. They did not last long. Of course, the Durango and Aspen of that era were sorry vehicles to begin with.

      • 0 avatar

        Towing with the two-mode hybrid GMT900s was done with the caveat that there wasn’t any reverse gear. Reversing was done with the electric motor. That may work most of the time with 7,700-8,300 lbs trailers, but I’ve got a friend that backs a powerboat trailer up his steep and long driveway with his Suburban. It would be quite a test for electric motors with a combined output of 80 hp. The motors do make a total of 236ft/lbs of torque, but that doesn’t seem like a ton with a potential GCVWR of 14,000 lbs.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think it means larger hybrids specifically. The 6.2L engines today do about the same in the real world as those hybrids.

  • avatar

    Went to Detroit last week – last visit was in 2012. It still has vast swaths that look like a bombed out war zone (no seriously, think Bosnia, or eastern Ukraine) and there are huge social issues…BUT…it definitely was better than 2015.

    People I talked to had good things to say about the new mayor, and seemed overall hopeful in the direction of the city. There is a sense that the bottom is in, and things are now going in the right direction.

    The downtown area where things are the nicest (area around RenCen basically) was packed with tourists, youth groups, and happy people. It had its share of homeless people and I had a moment of feeling unsafe with the camera bag by some interesting individuals – but the area from a homeless people stand point was vastly better than San Francisco or Portland, Oregon. San Francisco around the convention center is a cesspool in comparison to the street people scene there.

    I felt an overall positivity in Detroit I haven’t sensed in prior visits. I hope it continues. Oh – and the best darn soul food in the country by far is found in Detroit. You just have to grow a pair and go into some of the more — errrrrrr — intimidating — ya that’s the word — neighborhoods. Oh, and definitely only in daylight hours.

  • avatar

    There are probably more RINOs in official positions in the U.S. than there are Rhinos left in the wild. Several Hybrids have been cancelled recently due to struggling sales, so what better use of taxpayer money than to ignore that and throw even more money at the automakers.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Volt is a decent car that no one wants to buy, so what is this infusion of taxpayer money supposed to accomplish?

  • avatar

    Ford already is leading in hybrid cars. What help does it need? How about helping poor Chinese manufactures to come to US with innovative electric cars and bury Detroit once and for all?

  • avatar

    Gasoline hybrids are a realistic technology which can be sold to the masses. Hydrogen, fully electric, and to an extent LPG are simply not for various reasons including a national refueling network. Diesel had promise but the un-elected bureaucrats at EPA put an end to that future for the masses.

  • avatar

    So would this bill exclude FCA since they aren’t American owned?

    • 0 avatar

      If this rumor of Prius development (which I don’t think accurate) was something to blame, they shouldn’t receive the fund.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t understand why such a bill was proposed.

    Hybrids have been around for 15 years. Ford and GM know how to build them. Loads of other mfrs do, too. There is no secret to the technology.

    And, American consumers buy them, just not the American-made ones so much.

    I thought CAFE was supposed to solve this problem through regulation. If Congress really wants to help, they could consider giving the gift to Tesla instead. They’re doing it all on their own, save the state-provided corporate welfare that everyone else gets.

  • avatar

    It’s just graft.

  • avatar

    whatever stabenow pushes is strictly UAW. She could care less about the american public…just lining her bank account with lobbyist’s money.

    • 0 avatar

      While I don’t like Debbie, she gets way more money from banks, pro-abortion PACs, lawyers, farm PACs, and the health care sector than the UAW or the Big 2.5. She’ll vote for and sponsor anything that benefits Michigan’s auto industry because that’s what keeps her in her Senate seat. If we had a republican senator, they would do the same thing.

  • avatar

    The carmakers like the subsidies? You don’t say. Virtually any proposal to take money from Peter and give it to Paul will get Paul’s support.

  • avatar

    How many trillion in debt and still handing out giveaways to corporations ?

    Weren’t there already handouts to the Big 3 for energy efficient vehicles in 07-08?

    Print, FED, print. They’re back for moar.

  • avatar

    “Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids”

    Or, for the less gullible:

    Senate Committee Approves Bill to hand further millions to Detroit automakers and their lobbyists.

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