Debate Erupts in Congress, Fueled By Talk of Plug-in Hybrids

While Detroit's supporters in Congress fear calls for greater fuel economy will bankrupt the industry, actor Rob Lowe asks why can't Detroit build plug-in hybrids.

Published: 14-Jul-2007

WASHINGTON - A debate over the survival of Detroit's automakers broke out during a congressional hearing Thursday on the future of plug-in hybrid vehicles, as advocates pressed for more action and a Detroit defender warned the industry was on the brink of collapse.

The hearing was a mix of sympathy, castigation and bluster that has become typical of any debate about the auto industry on Capitol Hill. While General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler are building prototype plug-in hybrid vehicles, none was invited to the hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

That is the panel overseen by Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who has proposed a fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2018 for new vehicles and pledged to add it to the energy bill the House likely will consider later this month.

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