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Grand Rapids Press

Report: Michigan leads U.S. in 'clean' car jobs

Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 3:54 PM     Updated: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 10:52 PM

A new report on the auto industry finds Michigan leading the nation, commandingly, in jobs connected to "clean" car manufacturing and technology.

Of the more than 155,000 workers making products to increase fuel efficiency or lower emissions, 24 percent (some 38,000) are in Michigan, according to a report titled "Supplying Ingenuity: U.S. Suppliers of Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies," released today by the National Resources Defense Council, United Auto Workers and the National Wildlife Federation.

Michigan is home to 97 facilities making components for electric, hybrid or otherwise fuel-efficient vehicles. Ohio comes in a distant second with 13,753 jobs in this field, followed by Indiana with 11,819.

According to the report:

These suppliers and automaker component operations develop and produce the critical components for traditional, but advanced internal combustion engines and vehicles, for conventional hybrids and for emerging plug-in electric vehicles. Technologies include advanced combustion controls, turbochargers, improved transmissions, lightweight structures, electric traction motors, electronic controllers, advanced battery materials, traction batteries, and smart charging systems.

The states with the largest employment in the fuel-efficient parts supply chain are not just the traditional auto assembly states. While Michigan and Ohio are the top employers, thousands are also employed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Arizona, Texas and Alabama as well as other states.

The supply chain also suggests a melding of Midwest manufacturing prowess with West Coast Silicon Valley-type entrepreneurship. California is second only to Michigan in terms of number of facilities but the California facilities are typically smaller, indicating the start-up nature of new entrants into the automotive space driven by the need for fuel saving technologies, especially with hybrid and plug-in vehicles.

The numbers come in advance of President Obama's second visit in 13 months to Holland, where he'll visit a factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars.