New Study Touts Clean Vehicles For Creating US Jobs

A new report by environmental and labor groups applauds U.S. jobs coming from building clean, fuel-efficient vehicles – and recommends staying the course on tough emission and mpg standards.

Clean vehicle technology is supporting 288,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs in the U.S. economy, says the study by Natural Resources Defense Council and the BlueGreen Alliance.

The technology innovations have come in response to federal mandates to reach increasing fuel economy and greenhouse gas reduction standards from 2012 through 2025. Most of these fuel economy improvements have come from investments by automakers and a labor force skilled at building new components and systems such as light-weight steel, electric power steering, regenerative braking, and efficient transmissions.

These employees have been working at more 1,200 factories and engineering facilities in 48 states. The bulk of the workforce is based in five states with the most production facilities from the Detroit 3 and a few of the large “transplant” foreign carmakers with plants in the south. The report says that these top five states – Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky – have nearly 160,000 manufacturing jobs producing clean vehicle technologies.

The new study, Supplying Ingenuity II:  U.S. Suppliers of Key Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies, is part two of an initial study released in 2011. That took place as lawmakers in Washington, and federal agency heads, issued 2012-2017 fuel economy and GHG emissions standards – and while standards for 2017-2025 were being considered and debated. Bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler, and economic challenges at Ford, made the potential for job creation from clean vehicles appealing at the time of the first study.

For this second report, the two groups emphasized the importance of staying on track in meeting increasing fuel efficiency and emissions standards that are coming up.

“Securing today’s jobs and continuing to create new ones across the industry depend on keeping up the pace of domestic innovation, investment, and manufacturing under strong, long-term standards,” said the study. “Today’s automotive sector provides a powerful example of how we can simultaneously meet the nation’s environmental, economic, and job-creation goals.”

The two organizations recommend following a three-phase course of action. The first is to support robust clean vehicle and fuel economy standards.

This recommendation is made soon after the Trump administration had extended the public comment period on phase two of the federal rules.

Another recommendation is making improvements, and maintaining enforcement, of tax, trade, and manufacturing policies that reward domestic jobs and support labor and environmental standards globally.  Along those lines, the third recommendation calls for strengthening labor standards, workers’ rights, and regulations that protect worker safety and health on the job.

As you can see on the chart above used in the report, new innovative technologies are being deployed by automakers to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. It shows that technology improvements like 6 and 7 speed transmissions and gasoline direct injection have been winning out with automakers much more than plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and hybrid systems.

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The July 2016 technical assessment cited in the report, that came from federal agencies and the California Air Resources Board, found that advanced clean technologies could accomplish the fuel economy and emissions standards targets through 2025. NRDC and BlueGreen Alliance said in their report that electrified vehicles will play their part in hitting the target, but that new technologies developed for these vehicles – such as start-stop systems and regenerative braking – will see more gains made from the large volume sales that fuel efficient conventional powertrains provide.

The study does acknowledge recent improvements in domestic battery and electric drive component manufacturing will play a part in hitting increasing standards.


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