GM Takes Chevy Volt To Capitol Hill
Topics: Chevrolet Volt
July 24, 2007
The auto industry’s glaring truths make people fret. Gasoline prices continue to rise. Global warming issues continue to worry automakers. What is more, the unending debates on fuel mandates leave both the manufacturers and consumers floating in the air.
Automakers say that the fuel mandate is not feasible hence they are lobbying lawmakers to be more considerate in making their proposals. To convince Congress to pass a more feasible and palatable fuel mandate, General Motors Corp. takes its Chevrolet Volt to Capitol Hill Friday. Making the Volt appear on Capitol Hill is an effort to tout plug-in hybrids at the same time to persuade Congress to legislate less stringent fuel mandates.
The Volt is a plug-in concept vehicle introduced by GM introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January. The updated version of the vehicle was launched in China at the Shanghai Auto Show in April.
The concept vehicle lacks Chevrolet pickup hitches but in the GM lineup, it has more to offer. The Volt is designed to run purely on electricity from on-board batteries for up to 40 miles. The distance is enough to cover the average daily commutes of most Americans. However, using a small internal engine connected to a generator can resupply energy to the vehicle’s batteries. As such, the distance is raised to 640 miles on the highway.
Plug-in hybrids will be on center stage in Washington today as the Chevy Volt makes an appearance on Capitol Hill as part of General Motors Corp.'s effort to convince Congress to pass a more palatable fuel efficiency increase.
Troy Clarke, the GM head of North American operations, returned to the Hill yesterday to meet with about a dozen mostly undecided lawmakers. He brought the Volt with him. By flaunting the concept car, Clarke explained why the Detroit-based company believes the long-term answer to energy independence is through biofuels and the electrification of the automobile, rather than spending tens of billions of dollars to meet four percent annual corporate average fuel efficiency.
Clarke's arrival comes two days after about 100 auto dealers from the Big Three and the Toyota Motor Corp. visited the Hill to back a less stringent fuel economy measure. The “Hill-Terry” bill requires automakers to raise efficiency to at least 32 miles per gallon by 2022. The bill has about 75 cosponsors.
According to the Detroit News, the new push comes as it is still not clear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring up fuel economy legislation before the end of the month, although it seems more likely she will wait until after the August recess, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, and others say.
In June, the Senate approved a bill that would require automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to a combined 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2020. Rep. Ed Markey, the chairman of the House select global warming committee, has proposed an even tougher fuel bill.
Separately, the Volt was on display at the National Press Club for an event sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council on the future of plug-in hybrids. The council released yesterday a report billed as “a comprehensive assessment that finds that widespread use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the United States could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potential for improve ambient air quality.”
“NRDC believes that a combination of more efficient vehicles, improved battery technology, and a lower-emitting electric power plant fleet can produce substantial reduction in global warming pollution from both the electric power and the transportation sectors,” said David Hawkins, the director of the company’s climate center.
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