Report says clean car tech supports 288,000 US jobs

Fuel efficiency and emissions standards spur innovation.

As automakers build more electrified vehicles and improve the fuel efficiency of traditionally powered vehicles, the green car market is slowly growing. The market share of these cars, especially EVs, may be small, but they still have an impact on average fuel economy and emissions. They're also having an impact on jobs, according to a recent study from the BlueGreen Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report, compiled with the support of the United Steelworkers union, finds that technology that reduces pollution and improves fuel economy ­– in passenger and commercial vehicles alike – affects 288,000 jobs at more than 1,200 factories across 48 states. Michigan tops the list, with 69,593 clean-car jobs, with two more Midwest states, five Southeastern states, and California all being home to more than 10,000 jobs supported by this technology.

The sorts of technologies and parts that fall under the umbrella of this report include hybrid systems and electric propulsion, low rolling resistance tires, efficient transmissions, lightweight materials, direct injection, and turbocharging. The paper lists a number of manufacturers that produce these parts, and highlights their growth, spurred by innovation and encourage by environmental policies. Compared to 2011, these jobs have almost doubled in number, with more than 2.5 times as many facilities.

The report concludes that for this economic success to continue, decision makers need to protect and continue to improve emissions and fuel-economy standards. It says tax and trade policies are tools to encourage domestic manufacturing. It also recommends protecting and strengthening labor standards and workers' rights to ensure decent wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The report, which admittedly reads a bit like a lobbyist's pitch, does a good job of highlighting the ways that fuel economy standards haven't derailed the US auto industry since it fell on hard times a few years back. Sure, job growth tends to correspond with economic growth in general, but making cars cleaner and more efficient appears to be doing its part in the grand scheme of the industry since its recovery. Despite what some might have you believe, environmental and economic trajectories can align nicely.

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