Peters-Alexander-Stabenow Vehicle Innovation Act Advances in Senate

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) advanced in the Senate today when it was included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA) promotes investments in research and development of clean vehicle and advanced safety technologies that will create more fuel-efficient vehicles, reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil and support American auto manufacturers.

"Michigan has always been a leader in manufacturing, but we can only continue our success against companies on the other side of the world if we invest in new technologies," said Senator Stabenow, senior member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "Our measure will help manufacturers and suppliers research and develop new and innovative technologies to make the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles, which will reduce costs at the pump and our dependence on foreign oil."

"The cars and trucks of the future will have clean vehicle and safety technologies along with the horsepower and torque we know so well, and we need to make sure that these cutting-edge technologies are developed here in the United States," said Senator Peters. "I was proud to work with Senators Alexander and Stabenow to help advance this bill in committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move it forward in the full Senate. This important legislation will make critical investments in our advanced manufacturing industry to improve our vehicle fleet, create middle class jobs and support American auto manufacturers and suppliers."

"This energy research for fuel-efficient cars fits perfectly with Tennessee's expanding auto industry," said Senator Alexander. "Already Alcoa is selling more aluminum to manufacturers for parts and is expanding as it sells more aluminum to auto manufacturers. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is researching lighter materials and helped to develop a non-destructive technology that checks welds in real time on the production line, dramatically improving manufacturing efficiency."

The Vehicle Innovation Act establishes a consistent and consolidated authority for the Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, which promotes partnerships with public and private sector entities to conduct research and development to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles. This include research and investment in technologies such as hybrids, battery electric vehicles and natural gas-powered vehicles that reduce our dependence on foreign oil, support domestic development of technologies and grow the American advanced manufacturing industry.

The legislation also includes provisions to specifically include safety technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems, which have the potential to dramatically reduce traffic accidents and traffic congestion by allowing cars to communicate with one another and recognize dangers beyond what a vehicle's radar, cameras or other sensors can detect.

The legislation authorizes $313.6 million in funding for FY2016, and a four percent increase to each year after that through 2020, providing a consistent growth in funding to keep up with emerging technologies.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition of organizations including the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), the BlueGreen Alliance, the Auto Alliance, the UAW, 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, Magna International, Inc., Robert Bosch LLC, the LORD Corporation, Umicore, Bergstrom and NTEA, the Association for the Work Truck Industry.

"The Auto Alliance welcomes passage of the Vehicle Innovation Act of 2015 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee," said Mitch Bainwol, Auto Alliance President & CEO. "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. 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 Sens. Peters, Stabenow and Alexander for their hard work on this important issue."

"The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) applauds the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for today's passage of the Vehicle Innovation Act," said Steve Handschuh, President and CEO of MEMA. "Motor vehicle parts manufacturers are focused on the research, development and deployment of technologies that will assist vehicle manufacturers to meet future fuel efficiency and emissions requirements. Sens. Peters, Alexander and Stabenow are to be commended for their leadership in moving this critical legislation through the committee process."

"NTEA - The Association for the Work Truck Industry is very pleased to see the language of the Vehicle Innovation Act included in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's comprehensive legislation," said NTEA Executive Director Steve Carey. "NTEA thanks Senators Peters, Alexander and Stabenow for recognizing the energy saving and fuel efficiency progress generated by the work truck industry and increasing the support for those advances, which are critical to the nation's economy."

Peters is a strong supporter of advanced vehicle technologies. In May, he introduced the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 to allow states to use existing federal highway and surface transportation funds to invest in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technology. That legislation is included in the federal highway bill currently being debated in the Senate. He also recently created the bipartisan Smart Transportation Caucus to focus on encourage the development and deployment of next-generation transportation technologies to improve safety and efficiency.