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Levin calls for more hybrid car tax credits

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin of Royal Oak
Congressman Sander Levin

A Michigan Congressman says U.S. automakers need more help to sell large numbers of electric and hybrid vehicles.

The Obama administration has set a goal of one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015.

There’s already a federal tax credit of $7,500 to help defray the cost of buying a hybrid or electric car.   But there’s a cap on how many of the credits are available to each automaker. 

U.S. Representative Sander Levin says the cap should be raised, from 200-thousand per car company, to 500-thousand.  He says that would help boost sales of cars like the Volt – GM’s extended range electric car.

"They are now ramping up their goals for production but what they need is to make sure they have demand and having the credit helps," says Levin.

Increasing the number of the credits could cost the federal government money, if enough consumers take advantage of the credits.   Levin says it's important to address the large federal budget deficit, but he says the bill would be worth the expense, because it would reduce the nation's use of foreign oil, and help the growing advanced battery industry in the U.S.

"I think we need to get spending under control," says Levin. "What we need to do is make sure we focus in on effective spending, and where spending is not effective, to eliminate it."

Many of the companies that make advanced lithium-ion batteries for vehicles are based in the state of Michigan.

Levin's brother, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, will be introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.