Michigan must continue investing in electric vehicles, batteries

Michigan needs to continue investing in the electric vehicle and advanced battery industry if we’re going to have a chance to compete with overseas manufacturers, according to Charles Griffith, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Ecology Center.

“Michigan needs to get back to creating Michigan jobs, and the electric vehicle sector gives us the opportunity to put people back to work,” Griffith wrote in a guest commentary in AnnArbor.com on Sunday, Dec. 11. “Building on our successes will help us expand Michigan’s advanced battery and electric-vehicle industry, creating thousands more jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and saving consumers money at the pump.”

Griffith’s commentary was published in response to an earlier AnnArbor.com article about the challenges facing the advanced battery industry, following recently announced production delays at Livonia-based A123 Systems.

“I certainly believe there will be consolidation over time as companies with different approaches to the market and different degrees of funding and access to funds will get weeded out,” A123 CEO David Vieau said in the AnnArbor.com story.

“The disruption in A123’s growth trajectory underscores a reality that’s often overlooked in Michigan’s battery rush: the early stage of any new industry involves a roller-coaster of highs and lows,” according to the story. “Industry experts expect some early-stage startup battery companies to fail as winners emerge and technology changes. Others are expected to soar.”

In his commentary, Griffith pointed out that the electric vehicle industry has already created thousands of advanced auto sector jobs in Michigan and more than $6 billion in investment.

“Governments around the world are investing in clean energy and Michigan is in a global race to develop technology and manufacturing leadership in this dynamic industry,” Griffith wrote. “Putting our foot on the brake now will only allow others to pass Michigan and leave us behind.”

See the Guest Commentary at AnnArbor.com »