U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced legislation to help people who buy plug-in electric cars, and to help the companies making the advanced vehicles.
Right now, someone who buys a plug-in electric car like a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt gets a tax credit of up to $7,500. But the buyer doesn't collect the money until tax time. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the program could be improved.
"I think it would be an even bigger incentive if it were on the front end for consumers," she says.
Stabenow says Congress already approved the money for the tax credit, so it wouldn't cost any more to give it out as a rebate at the time of sale.
Currently, cars that qualify for the full rebate include the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf, and the Tesla Roadster. Ford, Fiat and Toyota plan to launch electric plug-in cars in the next year.
Stabenow's legislation would also commit the federal government to spend $2 billion dollars to help companies that make advanced lithium-ion batteries for vehicles. That's on top of the two billion dollars the federal government has already to help the new industry. Stabenow admits the legislation is being proposed during a tough budget year.
"I think that strategic investments in innovation, like battery innovation and manufacturing, equals jobs," she says. "So I'm hopeful that this will be a priority."
Michigan received the lion's share of the last round of federal grants for advanced battery development, more than a billion dollars. Michigan now has more advanced battery companies than any other state.