Everybody’s worried about the high unemployment rate, and they should be. But fuel-efficient cars, hybrids and electrics are putting Americans to work big time.
Clean cars create jobs. The Big Three automakers, addicted to the profits they made off big SUVs, saw economic ruin in subcompacts, hybrids and — heaven forbid — battery electrics. But now they’re all building them — even Chrysler.
In the first half of 2012, we had the most fuel-efficient fleet of new passenger vehicles ever, averaging 23.8 mpg (up 1.1 mpg from 2011). The auto industry has had some setbacks (and Europe is a bother), but mostly it’s recovered from 2009 and is on track to sell 14.1 million cars this year (up 1.4 million from 2011).
And it’s working! The American automakers aren’t going bankrupt (again), but are instead reporting profits. They managed to hold their noses and produce compacts, hybrids and tech breakthroughs like the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. Ironically, the biggest headaches these international players have are in Europe, where the recession means that people aren’t buying cars. If they did buy them, they’d be tiny. SUVs? The main life there is in crossovers, built on relatively small car platforms.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is out with a new report noting that the American auto industry has added 236,600 jobs since it hit bottom in June of 2009. Some 165,100 jobs were in manufacturing, and 71,500 at dealerships…