By Gov. Jennifer Granholm
A car that gets 230 miles to the gallon? You can feel the electricity in the air...
It's coming soon to a dealer near you. The first commercial-scale electric car will be the Chevy Volt, but others will quickly follow. All made possible by the lithium ion battery. The same kind of battery, only bigger, that runs your laptop will now power your car. First, it's 230 miles to the gallon; next, it's a car that runs 230 miles on a single charge. The goal: no gasoline -- ever. With last week's announcements, the door has opened to the possibility of freedom from foreign oil.
And jobs in America making it all possible.
When President Obama announced $2.5 billion in grants to ensure that the electric car battery research and development occurs in this country, we made a national commitment to being energy independent.
Two-hundred and thirty miles.
From our vantage point in Michigan, we've been looking at the world through green-tinted glasses for quite awhile now. We have been pushing, planning, shaping and reshaping our economy to lead in green. Michigan received $1.3 billion in federal advanced-battery grants, going to nine companies and three universities. That was more than half of all the federal grants. (To those companies who got the other half of those grants, I invite you to come to Michigan, too.)
That Michigan got such a large share of the battery grants was not by happenstance. We competed for it; we fought for it; and we won. The groundwork began nearly three years ago when we developed a plan to become the advanced-battery capital of the world and created innovative tax credits to make Michigan irresistible to battery manufacturers. We have been focused, determined, and fired up about creating an entire industry cluster around this critical technology.
Developing new technologies is expensive. That's why a partnership between the public and private sectors was necessary, why state tax credits and DOE grants were crucial. It brings down the initial cost of the technology and makes it feasible to develop. It's a seeding process. Now we're going to see battery plants sprout up throughout Michigan.
Advanced batteries are obviously key to vehicle electrification, but they also are needed to store energy generated by wind and solar power. And oh, by the way, we're also making great strides in those two sources of green energy as well.
That may be surprising to everyone who thinks of Michigan as a rust-belt state equivalent to Mickey Rourke's wrestler -- down-and-out, past its prime, its gaze still locked on the rear-view mirror, trying to catch a glimpse of a long-faded 20th century.
Think again. We're off the mat. We intend to lead the charge to a green industrial revolution in this nation. And there's no turning back.