We had a heat wave in March and snow in April, so maybe we should expect strange things happening in Michigan this time of year.
But some of the developments in the electric vehicle industry in the last month have been stranger than fiction. After some discouraging news recently, all of the lights are turning green, it seems.
First off, we have Fox News describing the Chevrolet Volt as "an anti-terrorist weapon" because of its impact on reducing oil imports. After watching Fox lead a partisan attack on this industry for so long, it's great to see them come around to recognize that alternative-fuel vehicles are good for our national security.
Next, after first announcing layoffs we see GM calling workers back early in response to increased demand for the Volt, following the car's best sales month ever in March. "Sales of the extended-range plug-in electric vehicle disappointed in early months but are now gaining steam," according to the Detroit Free Press.
But it's not just the Volt. Early in April, Automotive News reported that sales are up for all hybrids and electrics. "Just when it looked like electric cars were running out of juice, the return of $4 a gallon gasoline is generating new life for battery-powered vehicles," they said.
And how about former GM exec Bob Lutz, who was behind much of the development of the Chevy Volt? What does he think of the criticism that's tried to make the electric vehicle into a political punching bag? "It's nuts," he told the New York Times last week.
Strange things happening, indeed. But you can't doubt that the tide is turning our way, and that there's more good news than ever before for electric vehicles and the advanced batteries that power them. And that's good news for Michigan.
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center
Hot off the presses: A new Union of Concerned Scientists report shows electric vehicles in Michigan emit lower greenhouse gas emissions than most cars, but could be a lot better if we increased our use of clean energy. With the right policies, EVs should get better over time while helping create jobs and keeping our auto industry competitive at the same time.