The U.S. auto industry is one of the nation’s hardest hit industries in the current economic climate. Several of the nation's largest automakers were facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy. Dwindling sales and minimum cash reserves led the automakers to seek help from the U.S. government.
The emergency loans were granted to GM and Chrysler recently totaling $13.4 billion. Governmental officials in Michigan aren't content to rely on these loans to power the major employers in the state and are looking to the future to lure new business into the sate that will bring jobs and bolster the economy.
Lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm from Michigan are offering up big tax incentives to battery firms to lure them away from Asia and into the U.S., specifically into Michigan where the battery technology can be used by automakers directly.
With hybrid vehicles and plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt at the core of the plan GM and other automakers have to save their companies, it makes sense for the state to want to bring the making of all key components to Michigan. The lithium-ion batteries are perhaps the most important component of any hybrid vehicle.
Sen. John Pappageorge told the Detroit News, "It is imperative that Michigan possess this technology to keep Michigan the center of car manufacturing."
Lawmakers from the state say that not only is Michigan lacking in battery technology companies, but the entire U.S. is lacking as well. Granholm said, "They [GM] are going to produce the Volt. ... The battery that is going to power the Volt -- we intend that to be made in Michigan."
Michigan is offering battery companies refundable tax credits to lure them to the state. Refundable credits go a step further than tax breaks; they are like a rebate for production expenses and can require the state to write checks to businesses if the credits exceed their tax liability. The tax measure was approved by the Senate 31-3 and was approved by the House 94-0.