WASHINGTON Jan 15 U.S. automakers, airlines
and railroads would benefit from billions worth of
infrastructure and advanced technology proposals included in an
economic stimulus package unveiled by congressional Democrats
General Motors Corp (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and
Chrysler LLC [CBS.UL] are fighting for survival because a
recession, stiff competition from overseas manufacturers, and
shifting consumer demands are driving down domestic sales
An industry priority is to speed up gasoline-electric
hybird development and introduce electric vehicles beginning in
2010 to better match cutting edge vehicle technologies now
dominated by Japanese manufacturers.
Under the stimulus legislation, the government would
provide $2 billion in grants and loan guarantees to help U.S.
industries develop auto battery systems suitable for
mass-market production and use.
"America should lead the world in transforming the way
automobiles are powered," Democrats said in the bill that will
be examined by various committees in coming weeks. The package
of $825 billion in tax cuts and spending must be debated in
both the House and Senate, and Democrats hope to have a final
version to send to the White House by mid-February.
Some lawmakers hope to include in the final bill a consumer
incentive, dubbed "cash for clunkers", that would offer up to
$4,500 toward the purchase of a new, less-polluting vehicle.
Smaller U.S.-based companies are also vying for business in
the electric vehicle market that is expected to grow quickly,
including start-up Tesla Motors Inc and Bright Automotive.
Another stimulus provision calls for government to spend
$600 million to replace older, less efficient vehicles with
cars and trucks that run on alternatives to gasoline. This
could include products made primarily from ethanol, a
GM and Chrysler, however, would not be eligible for any tax
breaks under the stimulus package because they received a $17.4
billion government bailout in December.
The Democrats' stimulus proposal also included government
spending to help air and rail transportation.
Amtrak would receive $1.1 billion to improve the speed and
capacity, and address some of the $10 billion capital
improvement backlog on the railroad's flagship Northeast
Corridor line between Washington, New York and Boston.
Airlines would also benefit from $3 billion in airport
improvement projects to reduce congestion, a major problem for
busy airports in the East and Midwest.
The bill would spend $500 million for the government to buy
more explosive detection technology for passenger and baggage
screening at U.S. airports. Specific systems were not
identified in the bill but leading providers are General
Electric Co (GE.N), Analogic Corp (ALOG.O), and privately held
Reveal Imaging Technologies Inc.
(Reporting by John Crawley)