Everybody knows bad news gets more coverage than good news. This is why we think it’s important to keep beating the drum about all the progress being made to promote innovation and jobs in the auto industry. While there’s been a little bit of bad news, it’s been far outweighed by the positive accomplishments in our region and all across the country.
So while opponents of the electric-vehicle industry have been crowing and doing their "told-you-so" routine about GM’s five-week slowdown in Volt production, not many of them are telling you that GM sold more Volts in January than in any previous month.
At Ford, they’ve just announced plans to add 1,200 jobs in the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, where they’re making the Ford Focus Electric. They’re also going into pre-production of two new hybrid passenger cars there. For the first time in 10 years, that plant will be going back to round-the-clock production. We can’t say how many of those jobs are connected with their electric products, but 1,200 new jobs is 1,200 new jobs.
Up in Midland, the Dow Kokam battery plant has resulted in more than half-million hours of work for Michiganders, and that’s just in the construction phase. More jobs will be coming when production begins there in a few months on the advanced lithium-ion cell batteries they’ll be making.
And just last week, President Obama proposed bigger tax credits for advanced-technology vehicles, and announced a $1-billion initiative to help communities across the U.S. create infrastructure to support them.
That’s the kind of leadership we need to get this new industry off the ground. With the right level of investment and support, we know that America can take the lead in putting the world on wheels again. And with gasoline hitting very close to $4 per gallon these days? We can do ourselves a very big favor by supporting alternative fuels and advanced technology in the auto industry.
Lower costs to drivers, more jobs for Michigan, and less pollution? That’s what I call "win-win-win."
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center