US Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) has introduced legislation that would significantly increase US investment in the development of advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
“The American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007” (S.1055) authorizes $100 million a year for five years to advance the technology—double the amount of the current budget request from the Administration.
Specifically, Biden’s bill would support the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funds for battery research to national laboratories, small businesses, and institutes of higher learning.
The bill will also establish, through a competitive selection process, an Industry Alliance of private,US-based, for-profit firms whose primary business is battery development. The Industry Alliance would be an advisory resource on short and long term battery technology development.
The proposed program would have four major areas of focus:
Research & Development. R&D efforts would include battery technology; high-efficiency charging systems; high-powered drive train systems; control systems and power train development, including cooling and control systems that seek to optimize battery life, while reducing petroleum consumption, and greenhouse gas production; and nanomaterial technology for battery and fuel cell systems.
Demonstration. The bill would provide funding for demonstration, testing and evaluation of hybrid electric vehicles for many different applications including military, mass market passenger and SUV vehicles.
Education. Support for an educational curriculum in secondary, high school, as well as higher education institutions that focuses on electric drive systems and component engineering.
Testing. The program would work with the EPA to develop testing and certification procedures for criteria pollutants, fuel economy, and petroleum use in vehicles.
In addition to research and development for lithium-ion batteries, the bill also sets a national standard for biodiesel and expands tax credit eligibility for consumers who purchase diesel vehicles.
Specifically, the bill expands the emissions requirements to qualify for a tax credit for various weight diesel vehicles, increasing the number of American-manufactured diesel vehicles that qualify. This provision will expire in four years, at which time vehicles will be required to meet the more stringent emissions standards. In particular, Daimler Chrysler produces a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel that will qualify under the new requirements.