Peters, Stabenow re-up bill to fund $1.7 billion in fuel efficiency research

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow re-introduced legislation Tuesday that would appropriate $1.7 billion to the Department of Energy over five years for research and development of fuel-efficient technology. 

The Vehicle Innovation Act funding could be used for research on electrifying vehicle systems, batteries, engine efficiency, natural gas and hydrogen vehicle tech, aerodynamics and more.

“Researchers, engineers and autoworkers in Michigan continue to lead the world in developing cutting-edge technologies that will make the next generation of cars and trucks safer and more efficient than ever before,” said Peters, a Democrat from Bloomfield Township. 

He said in a statement that the bill will lower energy costs for consumers, ease the country's dependence on foreign nations for oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“I’ll keep working to get it passed and signed into law to create more good-paying jobs in Michigan and ensure our workers and companies remain on the forefront of mobility innovation.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee. Tennessee is home to multiple major auto manufacturing plants, and last year Ford Motor Co. announced it would spend $5.6 billion to build a massive battery and electric truck manufacturing facility there in partnership with SK Innovation. 

Under the legislation, the Department of Energy would be directed to work with auto manufacturers, suppliers and other private-sector producers as well as universities and independent research labs when possible. 

Projects would be prioritized that provide the greatest total fuel savings and the biggest increase in jobs. The agency would be required to issue a report to Congress a year after the bill passes detailing recommendations for improving energy storage and batteries in EVs. 

Ford, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the legislation in statements Tuesday.

“Automakers are committed to a cleaner, safer, smarter transportation future, including significant investments in vehicle electrification and advanced safety technologies," said John Bozzella, CEO of Auto Innovators, which represents most major automakers selling vehicles in the U.S.

"This bipartisan legislation will support critical research and development needed to meet those goals while ensuring that the United States remains the leader in automotive innovation.”

Twitter: @rbeggin