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Sparks will fly over GM, Toyota plug-ins

'Automotive News' reports on tension between GM and Toyota over plug-ins.

Automotive News

It's all been very gentlemanly so far. No name calling. No punches thrown.

But a fight is brewing between heavyweights Toyota and General Motors over the way the government should support plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Robert Wimmer, a Toyota research manager, told a Senate committee last week that proposed legislation "redefines plug-in electric vehicles to seemingly eliminate consumer tax credits for all but one plug-in vehicle design. Toyota believes this approach is counterproductive."

He didn't identify the Chevrolet Volt by name. But the GM hybrid would be the main beneficiary of the bill, which would provide tax credits of up to $7,500. A plug-in hybrid being developed by Toyota might not qualify for a tax credit.

The difference? The bill, as written, bases the credit on a vehicle's range in the electric-only mode. The Toyota design is expected to rely, more than the Volt does, on an alternating combination of electric and gasoline engine power.

Said Wimmer: "We believe consumer incentives should encourage all plug-in designs and allow the consumer market to select winners, not legislation."

GM spokesman Greg Martin challenged the assertion that only the Volt would benefit but said it is understandable that Toyota's testimony "would reflect their competitive interests."

(Source: Automotive News)