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The U.S. Congress will not pass self-driving car bill in 2018: aides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress will not vote on a bill to increase the speed of the introduction of self-driving cars before it adjourns for the year, a blow to companies such as General Motors Co. and Alphabet, Inc Waymo unit, congressional aides said on Wednesday.

A sign marks a part of a route is used for testing a driverless electric shuttle to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA 7 March 2018. REUTERS/Paul Lienert

Nor will the Congress a proposal being pushed by GM and Tesla Inc. to renew or to extend a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, the assistants said.

To win passage in the last days, the measures that were to be annexed to a bill introduced Wednesday to fund government operations through early February, but they were not. Employees indicate that the finance bill, which can be approved as early as later in the day by the Senate of the united states, was the only way forward for the Congress adjourned.

Many automaker lobbyists and congressional staff say that the measures will face tougher chances in 2019 if the Democrats and Republicans will share the control of the Congress, but automakers plan to keep pushing.

The tax credit for Tesla buyers will fall for $3,750 on Jan. 1 and phase all the way to the end of 2019, the Internal Revenue Service said on Friday. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has proposed the termination of the EV tax credit entirely. He said Wednesday he plans to revisit the measure in 2019, while car manufacturers plan to keep pressing for the extension of credit.

The U.S. House of Representatives legislation in September 2017, and the speed of adoption of self-driving cars, but the legislation stalled in the Senate. Despite a series of concessions by automobile manufacturers, the bill could not overcome objections of some Democrats who said that it is not enough to solve security problems.

Car manufacturers may instead contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which said it plans to make it easier to test self-driving vehicles in the absence of action by Congress.

In October, NHTSA said that it is considering a pilot program to real-world testing on the road for a limited number of vehicles without human supervision.

Car manufacturers must currently meet, almost 75 car safety standards, many of them are written in the assumption that a licensed driver would be able to control the vehicle with the traditional controls.

GM in January filed a petition seeking an exemption for the use of fully automated vehicles as part of a ride-part of the fleet that it plans to deploy in 2019, but the agency has not yet acted. On Tuesday, the agency said that it was the revision of the rules no longer have to declare petitions “complete” for the publication of a summary of the application.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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