Creating green jobs in the U.S. amidst the troubled, changing global economy has been a strong message from the Obama administration since 2009, but this year it hasn't been mentioned as often. Still, Mitt Romney is criticizing federal involvement in green jobs.
Fuel efficiency has become a mainstay concern for U.S. car shoppers, whether they are considering crossovers, SUVs or pickups. For July 2012 U.S. light vehicle sales, fuel efficiency and interior roominess were important to the sales leaders, according to analysts. In the DrivingGrowth job report, the environmental benefits of seeing more fuel efficient vehicles hit the roads are not as heavily emphasized as job creation. For consumer groups such as Consumer Federation of America (CFA), monetary savings based on lifecycle ownership costs are appealing to consumers who support the federal mandates. For both DrivingGrowth and CFA, influencing the soon-to-be released final mandates on the 54.5 fuel economy standards seems to be the primary reason for issuing their reports.
Federal fuel economy mandates seem to be the most effective, realistic tactic for stakeholders to come together and agree on a method to reach collective goals. Whether you're talking to automakers, unions, government agencies, consumers or environmental groups – or analyzing light-duty passenger vehicles or medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles – reaching corporate average fuel economy goals is the benchmark, and the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gas and carbon emissions goes right along with it. Job creation is icing on the cake for a nation going through its deepest economic crisis and transition since the Great Depression.
Driven by Fuel Efficiency, U.S. Auto Industry Jobs Up Nearly A Quarter Million Since 2009
New Final Federal Fuel Economy Rules for 54.5 MPG Expected in Mid-August; Highlighting MI, IN, and OH Employment Impacts, Report Available at New DrivingGrowth.org Website.
Detroit – August 8, 2012 - With the launch of new federal vehicle fuel economy rules only about one week away, the American auto industry has grown by nearly a quarter million jobs (236,600) since June 2009 when the auto industry hit bottom, according to a new report available from DrivingGrowth.org.
The report from DrivingGrowth.org (http://www.DrivingGrowth.org) finds that fuel efficiency is a major factor behind the gains in U.S. auto jobs. A website that tracks the revitalization of the U.S. auto industry, DrivingGrowth.org is sponsored by three leading U.S. environmental organizations: The Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
Manufacturing of motor vehicle and parts has grown by 165,100, or 26.4 percent since June 2009. Another 71,500 jobs have been added at U.S. auto dealerships. Automakers, their suppliers and their dealers are now looking ahead to a brighter future after the dark days of the recession.
Examples of how fuel-efficiency standards are accelerating the auto industry's recovery in the U.S. include the following:
- Michigan -- 35,200 new auto manufacturing jobs since June 2009 when the auto industry hit bottom, accounting for half of the state's total job gains over the same period. In Saginaw, Michigan, for example, automotive supplier has added 650 jobs and will retain an additional 1,000 jobs for production of electric power steering components (EPS) for U.S.-made pickup trucks. EPS, which replaces a more fuel intensive hydraulic system, can boost fuel economy by 4-6 percent on a typical vehicle.
- Indiana -- 19,800 new auto manufacturing jobs since June 2009 when the auto industry hit bottom, accounting for over one third of the state's total job gains over the same period. In Greensburg, Indiana, Honda is investing $40 million and will hire 300 new workers as its Indiana facility becomes the sole global producer of the fuel-efficient Honda Civic hybrid. It will be exported to markets around the world from Indiana.
- Ohio -- 11,300 new auto jobs since June 2009 when the auto industry hit bottom, accounting for one quarter of the state's total job gains over the same period. In Warren, Ohio, General Motors is running three shifts at its Lordstown Assembly plant, adding 1,200 jobs and employing 4,200 total workers to produce the high-mileage Chevy Cruze, which achieves 42 miles per gallon (MPG) in the EcoCruze model.
"People in Ohio want clean air and clean water – and we can have both by bringing clean car manufacturing jobs to," said Frank Szollosi, federal policy associate for the NWF's Great Lakes Regional Center. "And it's happening. 11,300 auto jobs have come back to Ohio since the industry hit bottom. Ford's Eco-Boost engine, which is key to the company's fuel efficiency strategy, is made in Ohio. And companies like Parker Hannafin are adding jobs in Columbus to build fuel-saving components for hybrid heavy trucks."
"Thanks in large part to a renewed focus on fuel efficiency, 35,000 more Michigan auto workers are back to work," said Ryan Werder, campaigns director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. "Michigan is once again on the forefront of the global auto industry, showing us how clean technology, revitalized economy, and a cleaner environment all go hand-in-hand."
Part of the brighter U.S. industry future is due to manufacturers investing in innovative technologies to prepare their vehicle fleets for increased fuel efficiency standards. Model year 2012 is the first year of a long-term federal program that requires a sales-weighted average of the equivalent of 35.5 MPG by 2016.
In 2011, the Obama administration announced plans for additional draft fuel economy and emissions standards that will raise new passenger vehicle fuel efficiency levels to the equivalent of 54.5 MPG by model year 2025. The process of setting new fuel economy standards began in 2007, when Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a new energy law.
The new rules, expected to become final later this month, cover both fuel economy and emissions and are a continuation of the carbon pollution and fuel-efficiency standard program that currently goes to 35.5 MPG by 2016. Thirteen global automakers, including Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW) are on record in support of the new rules.
According to the new DrivingGrowth.org report, current trends show that higher fuel efficiency standards are already working:
- The first half of 2012 set the record for the highest-ever fuel efficiency for new passenger vehicles at 23.8 MPG, up 1.1 MPG from the same period from 2011.
- The projected new auto sales figure for 2012 is 14.1 million units, up a strong 1.4 million vehicles over 2011.
- There are now significantly more fuel-efficient vehicle choices of all sizes for consumers. The number of high fuel efficiency, high volume vehicle models has more than doubled since 2009, from 28 to 60, according to an analysis by auto industry forecasters Baum and Associates. These include fuel-efficient models of small cars, midsize cars, and crossovers (CUVs).
Additional interviews from other auto manufacturing and supplier companies will be added in the next few weeks. The new DrivingGrowth.org website also includes an archive of news stories related to fuel efficiency and lower auto emissions; data on automotive job growth, infographics describing the consumer, environmental and economic benefits of fuel economy and emissions standards, a catalog of research studies and reports, and blogs by environmental and industry insiders.