Cars have always been a part of my life. When it came time to teach me to drive, my dad insisted that I learn on a stick shift. He told me that it would make me more independent, and he was right.
My brothers loved everything about cars. I remember them talking to my sisters and me about the coolest “this” and the fastest “that.” Like most brothers, they were competitive, but usually it was more about pushing the limits of what they thought they could do.
Last week I had a chance to see that same competitive spirit and the same desire to push the limits when I visited the Washington Auto Show. I saw the incredible new Chevy Volt, which is leading a new charge of plug-in electric vehicles. I saw a Mustang that puts my “classic” 1994 model to shame, producing 300 horsepower, yet getting 30 miles per gallon. And I saw an example of the cars coming out the Wayne Assembly Plant, where funding from our Employment and Training Administration is helping 2000 workers stay on the job and get the training they need to produce new hybrid vehicles.
What I saw at the auto show weren’t just evolutions of the cars my brothers tinkered with–they are revolutionary steps forward in safety, efficiency, and performance.
Today in Detroit, I’ll visit a plant where the Volt is produced and meet the workers whose ingenuity and forward-thinking are making this dream car a reality. On Tuesday, I’ll be visiting Chrysler’s Jeep Assembly Complex in Toledo.
The President’s recent tax package is helping America’s car companies continue to dream of and create the cars of tomorrow. Allowing companies to write off the entire cost of investments in 2011 – the largest temporary tax incentive in American history – and extending tax credits for research and development are common sense solutions to spur hiring, accelerate economic growth, and generate demand for America’s manufacturers. We saw signs of this in Friday’s jobs report: Manufacturing led all industries with 49,000 jobs added in January – including more than 20,000 jobs in the motor vehicles alone.
Safer, smarter cars are just the beginning. Out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world is a challenge our car makers are ready to take on. They’ve already shown that green, powerful, and American-made isn’t the stuff of science-fiction people assumed only a few years ago.
Who knows what they’ll come up with next? But I’m pretty sure I’ll want one of them. My dad will, too.