Hands up for Detroit!

greenIn the Huffington Post, the Governor of Michigan, Jennifer M. Granholm, is really really excited about green technology transforming the U.S. auto industry:

“MICHIGAN’S BIG THREE AUTOMAKERS, the UAW, Michigan’s world class engineers — they are working together to reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than ever before in this country’s history. It’s not Silicon Valley. It’s not Route 128. It’s Motown that is making a more significant impact on global climate change than any other place in America.

In addition to the new fuel efficiency standards, May was also the month that five innovative new Michigan companies submitted their applications to the Department of Energy to receive federal funding to design and build the advanced batteries that will power the electric vehicle of the future. Their applications are backed by $700 million in state incentives.

In Michigan, we’re not only redesigning the current generation of vehicles to be more fuel efficient, but as the world’s epicenter for automotive research and design, we’re literally redesigning the entire notion of the automobile. The Chevy Volt will be the first ever mass produced car designed around a lithium ion battery pack rather than an internal combustion engine. Ford is preparing for the introduction of a full line of new hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and just announced their first fully electric vehicle will be made at an efficient Michigan factory. Chrysler is also electrifying its product lines, with announcements to come. The key challenge we need to overcome to make the transition to an electric vehicle fleet is perfecting the battery. To meet that challenge, world class companies like A123 Systems, Johnson-Controls-Saft, KD Advanced Battery Group, LG Chem, and Sakti3 are partnering with Michigan’s Big 3 automakers and Michigan’s Dow Chemical to put the world’s best battery engineers to the work on solutions.”

However all is not sunny in the Midwest’s valley. The Wall Street Journal asks the $64 trillion question, “Can auto makers boost the overall fuel economy of American cars and trucks by 40% in seven years without forcing everyone into a Smart ForTwo?” –And answers, “They’ve done it before and should be able to do it again, but it could be a bumpy transition.”

“BETWEEN 1975 AND 1987,” the Journal reports, “the average fuel efficiency of American cars and trucks improved by nearly 68%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This was a remarkable achievement, but it came at considerable pain and discomfort both to auto makers and consumers.” Read more of the Journal’s analysis here.

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