The Past and Future of the Auto Industry
As I note over at the Guardian, the need for federal bailout money is pushing GM and Chrysler in the direction of more fuel efficient vehicles. GM has experienced what you might call a foxhole conversion to the belief in hybrid or electric vehicles:
This commitment to green technology is a new-found virtue. Only four years ago, GM killed its plans for an electric car, even though sales of Toyota's Prius hybrid were on the rise.Delaware's offer of $94,140 to AutoPort seems more forward looking, though frugal in comparison:
Delaware's governor Jack Markell isn't waiting for Detroit to create the automotive future. Yesterday, Markell awarded a modest economic development grant to a local company, AutoPort, to convert gasoline-powered vehicles to a new technology called Vehicle to Grid, or V2G, which is being developed at the University of Delaware. V2G enables vehicles to store electricity at night when demand is low and return it to the grid during hours of peak demand. The small but bitter irony, though, is that the company is converting Toyota Scions being shipped into the Port of Wilmington – not the unsold Saturns and Pontiacs piling up at the nearby GM plant.$194k may seem like pocket change compared to the billions being used to bail out GM and Chrysler, but at least it's an investment in the future and not the past.