The program has helped GM keep pace in terms of efficiency with Ford, which switched to aluminum bodies for its current-generation F-150, and Ram, which has integrated a mild hybrid system into some versions of its latest 1500 pickup.
"The truth of the matter is, GM played a really large role in our ability to commercialize our product," Bailey said. "They might have done that anyway, but I think it's highly likely that the federal standards that were in place helped facilitate their interest in exploring a new technology."
Absent aggressive fuel economy rules, Tula might have moved overseas, where governments are pushing automakers to develop clean cars.
"If we take away that pressure, we'd be struggling to get traction in the U.S.," he said. "And perhaps the concept of Dynamic Skip Firing never makes it, or alternatively, since we believe in the concept, we would have just turned our attention immediately to Europe or Asia and focused efforts there. And perhaps Tula ends up growing up on another continent.
"But I know it was certainly beneficial for us to have a strong interest from a domestic manufacturer," Bailey said.
"And as a small company, it's a lot easier to work in your backyard than a couple continents away."
Putting on a broader policy hat, Bailey expressed concern that loosening fuel efficiency and emissions rules would erode U.S. leadership in developing advanced vehicle technologies.
"The home market is where a lot of early development takes place and new technologies tend to be introduced first by global automakers," Bailey said. "They start at home and then move into other regions. And if home isn't demanding any requirements or new aggressive development, that's not a good thing.
"Independent of what you may think about global warming," he added, "it makes little sense to abdicate a strong competitive position to others for no apparent gain."