Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Michigan Leads Nation in Clean Car Jobs

Not surprising, but very pleasing. We are the state that put the nation on wheels, only fitting that we are the state that will change the way those wheels turn.

At least 155,000 auto industry jobs now exist in the United States devoted to fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, with that number likely to grow, according to a joint report released today by the UAW and two environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council National Wildlife Federation.

The new study found that more than 300 companies in 43 states and the District of Columbia are currently involved in manufacturing tied directly to clean and fuel efficient technologies. That number is likely to expand even more in the wake of recently announced fuel economy standards that would require a fleet average of 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025.

Michigan led the nation with 97 facilities in the state employing about 38,000 workers, the report found.

That was followed by Ohio, with about 14,000 workers employed at 28 facilities, and Indiana with about 12,000 workers at 30 facilities.

Would love to see the Freep update this map of automotive jobs from 2008 and include all the R & D efforts this report cites. Want to see the totals now, after the contraction and then expansion that concentrated Big Three jobs back here. Still scary that we are back to putting our economic hopes in the hands of one industry (again), but it sure is nice to still be No. 1.

And for those who want to see more mass transit/heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency, know that that is happening as well. The White House made this announcement today:

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”


Under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the Administration’s historic car standards, this program – which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes. Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators. A semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life. These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

You can already see it happening with buses and fixed route delivery vehicles, a natural for electric and natural gas technology. New semi-trucks can be made to be more aerodynamic, and even the old ones can be retro-fitted to increase fuel efficiency. These stories don't get the play that passenger vehicles do, just know it's out there and on the way.

What we are witnessing is a quiet fuel revolution that is going to add up to a huge victory for this country when all is said and done. Starting to think that saving the American auto industry and requiring these fuel efficiency measures might be President Obama's most important legacy; we just can't see the big picture right now because we are too close to it and it is still in motion. Not exactly your instant gratification policy that makes the splashy headlines, but it will pay-off big time in the end. Not only are we helping to save and create a healthy global environment, we are slowly going to wean ourselves off of our foreign oil dependency - and that in turn is going to save us money, create more domestic jobs, and help out on national security too. That is "winning the future", to borrow a phrase.

If you live long enough, you will see it in hindsight. Now, to get to work on reducing coal use and powering homes and businesses with renewable energy... national RPS, anyone?