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Stabenow and Peters Announce Legislation to Support Fuel Efficient Vehicle Research in Michigan

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Sixteen Automakers and Suppliers Join Peters and Stabenow in Farmington Hills to Support Bill

With local gas prices hitting record highs, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Representative Gary Peters today announced legislation to help Michigan's automakers and suppliers develop the next generation of high-tech, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Stabenow and Peters and joined sixteen automotive companies at the Robert Bosch LLC headquarters in Farmington Hills on Monday morning to announce their legislation - and to see examples of the technology that Michigan's automakers have already developed with federal support.

"We need to build the new vehicles of the future here in America in order to create clean-energy jobs in Michigan and across the country," said Senator Stabenow. "The Advanced Vehicle Technology Act will help our manufacturers and suppliers develop technologies to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, reducing costs at the pump and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. I am pleased to partner with Congressman Peters in introducing this legislation that will help boost our economy and help provide part of the long-term solution in the battle against rising gas prices."

"Michigan is already leading the development of next generation, fuel-efficient vehicles, and we need to ensure that we keep the competitive edge. Rising gas prices are going to drive up demand for advanced vehicles around the world, and it's in our national interest to ensure that they're manufactured here in Michigan," said Rep. Gary Peters. "Fuel-efficient vehicle research is a win-win for our economy: it creates jobs and makes transportation more affordable for American families."

On Monday, representatives of sixteen automotive companies met with Stabenow and Peters to announce the introduction of the bill and to showcase new, fuel-efficient technologies. Following the vehicle demonstration, the lawmakers toured Bosch's diesel and gasoline engine engineering laboratories, where alternative energy technologies are being tested.

Stabenow and Peters have both been national leaders in the effort to expand job-creating research and development of new advanced vehicle technologies in the U.S. The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) honored Senator Stabenow with its Joseph M. Magliochetti Industry Champion Award this year, and Representative Peters was the 2010 recipient of the same award.

Stabenow's and Peters' legislation, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act (H.R. 1367), reauthorizes the Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, an initiative that enables the Department to partner with automobile and truck makers to conduct research on fuel efficient cars and trucks.

Despite demonstrated success in helping Michigan's automakers move forward - including advances in fuel cell and plug-in hybrid technology - the program has been operating without Congressional authorization, making its future uncertain.

The Advanced Vehicle Technology Act also directs the Department of Energy to move beyond the programs traditional partnerships to include more American-based automotive suppliers and commercial truck manufacturers. Under the bill, the Department of Energy would partner with public and private sector entities to conduct research programs on a wide range of passenger vehicle and medium and heavy duty commercial vehicle technologies - in particular, hydrogen and advanced batteries to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Gas prices in the metro-Detroit area hit a record high of $4.20 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline last week, and with rising demand from India and China, the need for alternative energy will only increase.

This is especially true in the transportation sector, which accounts for approximately 28% of U.S. energy demand and is over 95% dependent on petroleum - 60% percent of which is met by imported supplies. At the same time, domestic automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers have increasingly limited resources for research and development of advanced technologies.

The legislation is an updated version of a bill that Stabenow and Peters introduced in the last Congress. In 2009, the bill passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan 312-114 vote and was endorsed by a broad spectrum of groups including the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club.

The new House version of the legislation has been cosponsored by Representatives Cicilline, Clarke, Connolly, Conyers, Dingell, Kildee, Kucinich, Larson, Levin, and Sutton. Senator Carl Levin has cosponsored Stabenow's Senate version.

Monday's event in Farmington Hills featured technology and advanced vehicle demonstrations from many of the sixteen companies in attendance. The companies included: General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Bosch, Magna, Eaton, Delphi, BorgWarner, Yazaki, Valeo, Parker Hannifin, Continental, Aisin, Hella, Nexteer and Umicore.

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