The following blog is by Zoe Lipman, Senior Policy Advisor for the BlueGreen Alliance.
I’d like to suggest we give cars for Mother’s Day. Since I don’t want to sound too self-serving here (please feel free to make mine something that goes from 0-60 in under 5 seconds!) I should clarify that I don’t mean this entirely literally.
Mother’s Day celebrates what we do together to launch each generation into a world where they can prosper and thrive. But lately it’s been easy to get a nagging feeling that we’ve taken some serious wrong turns. By contrast, however, the transformation that cars and the auto industry have undergone—in just the past few years—gives us some signposts for the road to a brighter future for parents and kids.
Pictured right: Ford builds the gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric C-MAX in Michigan on one of the most flexible automotive assembly lines in the world. Department of Energy loans helped facilitate Ford’s $500M investment to retool the facility, which now employs over 5000 people. As the window sticker shows, the plug-in hybrid electric C-MAX Energi is rated at 100 mpge when running on primary battery power and 43 mpg should you need to use the gas engine. A concept version, significantly powered by solar panels is shown in back.
Mother’s Day is the right time to ask: What can we do to take the pressure off struggling families? To provide exciting job prospects for young people as they’re entering the workforce? To change the feeling we get just by looking out the window that we have done grave damage to the natural systems on which this generation and the ones to come will fundamentally depend.
Oddly perhaps, we can take hope every time we pile into the much-maligned family sedan to run another errand, teach a teenager to parallel park a tiny commuter car, or put a load of power tools in the back of a pick-up truck. Every car, SUV, and light truck built since late 2011 is concrete (or high strength steel, turbocharged) proof that we can act together effectively to roll back climate change. Car by car we are cutting fuel use and carbon pollution from the average vehicle in half in just 15 years. This is the biggest step we’ve ever taken to cut carbon pollution and we’re making cars way better and saving families money at the same time. If we maintained this momentum across the economy, we would be well on our way to securing a stable, sustainable world for our children.
Pictured right: New standards for medium and heavy duty trucks are helping spur fuel and cost savings for truck owners as well, thanks to innovation by companies and workers at places like the Volvo Mack Powertrain plant in Hagerstown, MD.
These are family stories. Moms are building new more efficient gas, diesel and electric cars and running General Motors. Dads are building new materials and components, young people and their parents are getting new jobs in advanced engines, batteries, electronics, engineering and IT.But we aren’t just cutting pollution with each new car; we’re building a better economy. Today’s cars and trucks are vivid proof that we can throw decades of policies that sucked investment out of America into reverse. When we put strong fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards together with policies to help spur investment in building the most advanced transportation technology here, we galvanized a revival in innovation and manufacturing that has brought back hundreds of thousands of direct jobs and galvanized a much larger 21st century manufacturing revival. Now we’re looking at ways to make sure we capture the next generation of technology and jobs in trucks, buses, transit, rail, and infrastructure as well.
And we worked together to get there. While getting the casserole out of the trunk on Sunday, we can take a moment to reflect that our ride is proof that Democrats and Republicans, labor and business and environmentalists and economists can hammer out agreements and act decisively to build the kind of world we want our kids to live in—this is not pie in the sky, it’s Jeep in the underground parking garage. That’s what I want for Mother’s Day.