General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner said Thursday that the automaker should be able to put to good use its portion of a $25 billion government loan package for new technology.
Speaking to reporters at a ceremony announcing a new engine plant in Flint, Wagoner said many of the loan program's specifics still must be written by the U.S. Department of Energy, but GM can live with the version the House approved Wednesday.
"We'd like to see them written to include all new technologies with significant improvement in fuel economy, but the legislation does have specific guidelines as well," he said.
GM is developing the Chevrolet Volt, a rechargeable electric car that can run up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) on battery power, with a small internal combustion engine powering a generator to run the car after that. It's also spreading its dual-mode gas-electric hybrid system to more models.
"These are the kind of things that are going to make huge steps forward in fuel economy, so those kind of things, I think, should be eligible for support," he said. "What is not clear is what other kind of things," including parts suppliers, he said.
Wagoner also said he was pleased with a new tax credit for electric vehicles approved Wednesday by the U.S. Senate because it will help people buy them and end the country's reliance on petroleum.
"It makes sense the government should stimulate that technology," Wagoner said.
Under the Senate version, taxpayers may claim a credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric cars. The House is preparing a similar energy tax breaks measure but it differs from the Senate measure and will be a challenge for lawmakers to come up with a compromise in the last few days of this session of Congress.
GM shares were down 33 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $10.02 in afternoon trading.