U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced H.R. 4106, the Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA), in the House of Representatives. This legislation would earmark funds for research and development of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, and create truck-specific programs within the Department of Energy (DOE).
Long-time work truck industry advocate Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced the legislation in the Senate earlier this year, with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as co-sponsors of the bill. The legislation passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as part of a larger package of energy legislation.
“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,” says Steve Carey, NTEA Executive Director.
VIA legislation would support the science and industry needed to improve vehicle fuel economy and minimize petroleum use. It calls for DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office to partner with light-duty automobile, medium- and heavy-duty commercial truck engineers, manufacturers and suppliers to conduct research that will help advance the future of fuel-efficient cars and trucks. VIA is technology-neutral — it develops and strengthens the tools for vehicle experts, without bias.
The bill would require 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 nation’s passenger and commercial vehicles.
To the maximum extent practicable, activities under this act would be carried out in partnership or collaboration with automotive manufacturers, heavy commercial, vocational and transit vehicle manufacturers, qualified plug-in electric vehicle manufacturers, compressed natural gas vehicle manufacturers, vehicle and engine equipment and component manufacturers, manufacturing equipment manufacturers, advanced vehicle service providers, fuel producers and energy suppliers, electric utilities, universities, national laboratories and independent research laboratories.
DOE (in partnership with relevant research and development programs in other federal agencies) and a range of appropriate industry stakeholders would be required to carry out a program of cooperative research, development, demonstration and commercial application activities on advanced technologies for medium- to heavy-duty commercial, vocational, recreational and transit vehicles.
In addition to NTEA, a wide variety of environmental groups and manufacturers have indicated support for the bill, including 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, LORD Corporation, Umicore, Bergstrom, Magna International Inc. and Dorman Products Inc.