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.”