Ann Arbor’s Ecology Center has joined a state-wide coalition of businesses, labor groups, and environmental and other non-profit organizations aimed at boosting jobs in Michigan’s growing electric vehicle industry.
The “Built by Michigan” campaign was launched Friday, July 22 at press events in Lansing, Warren and Grand Rapids.
“We often hear that Michigan is at a crossroads,” said Charles Griffith, climate and energy policy director at the Ecology Center. “Nowhere is this more apparent than in our auto sector, where electric vehicles and advanced batteries are emerging as potential game-changers for the entire auto industry.”
Griffith spoke at the Built by Michigan launch in Warren, which was held at the National Association of Electrical Contractors – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training center. Other speakers included Karen Majewski, mayor of Hamtramck, where the Chevrolet Volt is manufactured; Shawn Crump, Volt driver and business agent for IBEW Local 58; Stuart Irwin, president of EVolution Electric Vehicle Systems; and Jeff Kessen, director of automotive marketing at A123, an advanced battery manufacturer that recently announced the hiring of its 1,000th employee in Michigan.
“Thousands of jobs are being created in Michigan because of electric vehicles, the advanced battery sector and other related industries — and taking our foot off the gas now will only others to pass Michigan and leave us behind,” Kessen said. “Governments around the world are investing in clean energy and Michigan is in a global race to develop technology and manufacturing leadership in this dynamic industry.”
According to a recent Ecology Center analysis, Michigan spent nearly $15 billion in 2009 to import oil from other states and countries.
“Michigan needs to get back to creating Michigan jobs, and the electric vehicle sector gives us the opportunity to put people back to work,” Griffith said. “Electric vehicles and advanced batteries are making tremendous strides in terms of progress and job creation, and we need to make sure we keep it going.”
The Built by Michigan coalition launched a petition urging Gov. Snyder and the state Legislature to support the success of the electric vehicle.
The petition states: “Electric cars are the future of the automobile industry and a key to innovation and leadership in technology and manufacturing in the 21st Century. Our state pioneered the auto industry and now we are at the vanguard of its future.”
It calls on Snyder and the legislature to:
* Support U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s proposed legislation that would allow electric vehicle buyers to receive a direct rebate instead of a tax credit;
* Encourage the state and other fleet vehicle purchasers to lease or buy electric vehicles;
* Provide financial incentives for the installation of public and workplace charging stations for electric vehicles;
* Implement clean fuel standards that require an increasing percentage of electricity and other alternative fuels for powering vehicles within Michigan.
Stabenow, who spoke at the Lansing event, also provided support for the new campaign.
“Now it is time to help these high-tech innovators go to the next level and make sure the new vehicles of the future are being built in Michigan, Stabenow said. “That’s why I’m glad to partner with entrepreneurs and other leaders to continue building on successful incentives for companies to expand Michigan’s advanced battery and electric vehicle industry, creating thousands of more jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and saving consumers money at the pump.”