The Associated Press is reporting that in the next few years, consumers could see the fruits of US$25 billion in government loans for the auto industry through a broader lineup of gas-electric hybrid vehicles, new plug-in electric cars and an expansion of fuel-efficient engines. The loans, approved by the House as part of a larger spending bill Wednesday, are intended to help the industry refurbish decades-old plants and develop advanced batteries and gas-electric hybrids. The loans are a major win for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, who lobbied for the funding as they dealt with a sluggish economy and weak sales. “We all know that there is real growth for our economy in this sector of jobs green jobs, alternative fuel jobs and I think we all feel the stresses on our domestic auto producers,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. The Senate was considering the loans later this week. The loans were authorized in last year’s energy bill but not funded. The loans were designed to help automakers meet costly new fuel-efficiency standards of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40 per cent increase. Auto suppliers are also eligible for the loans. Loans will be issued from the government at discounted rates and administered by the Energy Department, which is currently writing regulations for the program. The spending plan, which includes US$7.5 billion in case one of the companies defaults, would enable the department to speed up the rulemaking process. Companies would apply to the Energy Department for a loan, so it was unclear how the funding would be divided. Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, said the loans ensured that the “products will be built and the plants will be retooled right here in the United States.” He said recent product announcements offered a sign of how the loans might be used.