September 16, 2009 / 9:28 PM / 10 years ago

House clears $3 billion for auto technology research

A car is electrically charged at a municipal charging station near City Hall in San Francisco, California in this August 6, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives approved a $3 billion proposal on Wednesday to further spur research into advanced batteries and other technologies to power electric cars and other vehicles.

The bill, proposed by Michigan Representative Gary Peters, would also establish a technology program for commercial trucks, transit vehicles and heavy duty machinery.

The government has in recent months sharply boosted funding for battery research as U.S. automakers seek to reverse their fortunes and increase production of hybrids and introduce electric cars.

Japan leads the industry in advanced battery production and gasoline-electric hybrid sales.

Under Peters’ bill, the Energy Department would lead a new $3 billion research initiative over five years.

The agency also oversees a $25 billion loan program aimed mainly at helping domestic and foreign manufacturers retool factories and make more fuel efficient cars in the U.S.

Funding for advanced technology programs are also designed to help U.S. automakers meet tougher requirements on fuel efficiency and emissions beginning in 2012.

Peters’ plan would also boost manufacturing in Michigan where the near collapse of the U.S. auto industry this year has jolted the state’s economy.

There is no companion legislation in the Senate but supporters are hopeful that the 312 ‘yes’ votes in the House will send a strong signal for Senate lawmakers to act.

Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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