President Obama is doubling down on alternative powertrains.
Despite soft sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, last week Obama proposed expanded tax credits and community research grants to make alternative-energy cars and trucks more attractive to buyers, Bloomberg reported.
Electric, natural gas and hydrogen-powered vehicles would be covered by the plan.
Obama called on Congress to make two changes in tax law to coax drivers into less-polluting vehicles. One would raise the tax credit to $10,000 from $7,500 for the purchase of a so-called advanced vehicle.
The credit would be applied instantly at the dealership to reduce the transaction price.
But the proposal comes as some automakers struggle to sell models powered by alternative fuels. General Motors will idle a Michigan plant for five weeks starting this month because of growing stockpiles of the Volt.
"We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks and our buildings and our factories," Obama said. "That's the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down. Pretty straightforward."
The second tax change would target buyers of electric and natural gas-powered commercial trucks, including semi-tractor trailers.
Those vehicles would qualify for a 50 percent tax credit for half the additional cost over a conventional truck.
The proposals came as Obama visited a Daimler Trucks North America plant in North Carolina, which has begun hiring hundreds of workers to meet demand for heavy-duty trucks, a sign of economic recovery.
Long-haul trucks, about 4 percent of the on-road vehicles in the United States, account for almost 20 percent of the nation's fuel consumption, according to the White House.