Obama Touts Cleaner, Greener, Rebounding Auto Industry

President Obama travelled to Detroit today to tout the success of the auto bailouts and federal stimulus program in reviving the American automotive industry. At General Motors’s Hamtramck facility, Obama told workers that the $62 billion dollars the government spent to keep Chrysler and GM in business had saved 1.1 million jobs, and resulted in the strongest year of hiring that the industry has seen since 1999.

The speech comes one day after the administration released a new interactive map detailing the investments that have been made in new car and battery factories across the country and the resulting jobs created at each plant. The graphic shows particularly strong growth in Indiana and Michigan, which were two of the states hardest hit by the automotive crisis. Most of new job sites will produce green vehicles and components, with grants going to lithium ion battery, truck and bus hybridization, and electric vehicle factories. A handful of other projects include fuel cell research and manufacturing, biofuels, and natural gas and propane vehicle development.

According to information provided by the administration, 55,000 new automotive jobs have been created in the last year, with more on their way in the near future as a series of new plug-in cars hit the market and carmakers add workers to help produce more next-generation, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Department of Energy loans have been awarded to new production facilities for the Nissan LEAF, THINK!, Fisker, and a $465 million renovation of the old NUMMI plant in California, which will someday produce the Tesla Model S electric sedan. The stimulus bill also provides grants to 30 battery and component factories across 19 states. By 2015, the White House says that the U.S. will have the capacity to build 500,000 electric vehicles per year, with 40 percent of the world’s lithium ion battery production occurring domestically as well.

While at the plant, President Obama also took the opportunity to drive the new Chevy Volt, which would likely have never reached production without the bailout. Obama drove the car about 40 feet, got out, and called the Volt “pretty smooth.”


  • JamesDavis

    Obama is a good president. I hope he doesn’t allow “certain unsightly people” discourage him from his continued effort in converting the nation to clean energy and electric cars.

  • Shines

    Obama is a left wing democrat politician and is the President, so a lot of people are going to blame him for whatever is wrong. Many will say he is ruining the nation with big government and socialism. I hope he has the courage to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. This recession is the perfect time to be creating programs that provide jobs and at the same time help us reduce our need for foreign oil. Like everyone else he is not perfect. I say give him a break. I look forward to seeing more hybrid and electric vehicles thanks in part to government incentives.

  • Joe

    He’s hit the gas pedal and heading towards Communism!

  • TexHooper

    Joe, I agree. I would like this car to be shifted into reverse. Whatever happened to the free market? I love the idea of hybrids helping reduce the dependence on oil, but I do not like the governmental involvement.

  • Anonymous

    TexHooper

    free market always sounds great until there is a disaster (e.g. financial meltdown, giant oil spill)… then the blame points to lack of government involvement. i suppose you like breathing toxic air before the clean air act? think objectively and you’ll realize some form of balance between gov involvement and free market is always necessary.

    obama might not be perfect but he’s doing a lot more forward driving policies than many of his predecessors. unfortunately he is also spending more time cleaning up mess not only from 8 years of backward policies, but also 30+ years since the oil crisis in the 70s. like him or not, at least this president has a lot of common sense.

  • veek

    40% of the world’s lithium ion battery production? Dream again. The 23 July 10 issue of the prestigious journal Science includes an interesting article entitled “Chinese Policies Could Pinch US Efforts to Make Electric Vehicles.”

    The article notes China, which produces about 97% of worldwide rare earth elements (essential for electric vehicles), announced plans to cut rare-earth exports by 40% and to maintain its 10 – 25% export tariff. This decision will probably be challenged, but China apparently favors its own electrical component industry instead of favoring still more exports (although, to be fair, US corporations might export electric vehicle component manufacturing to China anyway, just like they seem to do with everything else).

    Realistically, this indicates US electric car component production has even more challenges and will now encounter more competitive disadvantage (you’d think that before spending so much money on infrastructure, our planners would have looked at the resource availability, just as you would do if you were remodeling your kitchen). The US mining industry hopes to open a California rare-earth mine in 2012 but this mine will supply maybe 10% of worldwide demand by 2014, assuming it even passes California’s vast regulatory processes and public opposition. Even lithium (one of the most common elements in the universe) is in limited commercial supply. The article also concludes that no action is expected for domestic rare-earth loan guarantees in the current session of Congress.

    Looks like Obama has again blown some of his wishful-thinking-disguised-as-hope smoke right at us.

  • Joe

    If Texhooper did not think we need to do something, he, I and you would not be here. I believe we need to get off foreign oil for our Nations sake. My belief in green house gas is that it is just a bunch of hot air (unproven). I like hybrids and other alternative vehicles, but the bailout hurt, not helped GM and Chrysler. That is why Ford is doing well because they did not take an Obama Bailout. Energy Independence and balanced budget is what I want.

    Signed Independent

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