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USA: How the Stimulus Revived the Electric Car

This story was adapted from Money Well Spent?: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History, which will be published by PublicAffairs.

A common criticism of President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package has been that it failed to produce anything — that while the New Deal built bridges and dams, all the stimulus did was fill some potholes and create temporary jobs.

Don’t tell that to Annette Herrera. She was 50 when the auto supplier she worked for in Westland, Michigan closed its factory and moved the work to Mexico. Then, after being unemployed for two and a half years, she got a job in October 2010 with A123 Systems, which had received $250 million in stimulus money to help open a new lithium-ion battery plant in nearby Romulus, Michigan.

“The first thing I did was call my husband and tell him, ‘You’re never going to guess! I got a job!'” Herrera recalled. “And then it was like celebration time.”

One success the Obama administration can duly claim is the rebirth of the electric car industry in the United States. Automakers have unveiled a number of mass-market electric cars, which have seen small but rising sales. Battery and parts manufacturers are building 30 factories, creating thousands of new jobs. A123 has hired 700 workers at Herrera’s plant and a second one in nearby Livonia, and plans to hire a couple thousand more people over the next few years.



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