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    US lawmakers begin push to expand federal electric vehicle tax credits

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers plan to introduce a bill to expand federal tax credits for buyers of electric vehicles, in what could be a boon for the growing EV market.

    The existing $7,500 tax credit for buyers of EVs phases out over 15 months once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars. The tax credit for Tesla buyers was halved to $3,750 on Jan. 1; General Motor's tax credit was likewise cut in half starting April 1.

    The bill, dubbed the Driving America Forward Act, would grant each automaker a $7,000 tax credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles after it exhausts the first 200,000 vehicles eligible for tax credits. It would shorten the phase-out schedule to nine months. The credits are paid directly to consumers, who can write them off on their tax returns.

    "At a time when climate change is having a real effect on Michigan, today's legislation is something we can do now to reduce emissions and combat carbon pollution," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and one of the sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement. "Our bill will help create American jobs and cement Michigan's status as an advanced manufacturing hub."

    Tesla shares rose 1.6 percent in morning trading on the news Wednesday.

    Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., signed on to the bill.

    Electric vehicles comprise a tiny, but growing, share of the U.S. vehicle market. Support for low- and no-emissions vehicles has grown both in the U.S. and in other major automotive markets, such as China. Though Tesla has been a market leader in EVs, several automakers are planning to release fully electric cars, trucks and SUVs over the next few years.

    "This would be a major shot in the arm for Tesla as this could be a much needed potential catalyst for demand in the U.S." said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. "Ultimately, while there are still hurdles to get this legislation passed, it would result in an additional 40,000 Tesla vehicles sold domestically in 2019 based on our estimates. After a tornado of bad news the last few months this would finally be a positive data point for Musk & Co."

    CNBC's Phil LeBeau and Meghan Reeder contributed to this article. Reuters also contributed to this report.

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