After a concerning decline during the recession, General Motors is making a comeback. Earlier this month, GM’s recently released signature car, the Chevrolet Volt, received Motor Trend Magazine’s prestigious 2011 Car of the Year award. The Volt’s success marks the emergence of a new generation of electric cars and will hopefully be a turning point for GM. The invention could also help to boost Michigan’s economy and the American auto industry as a whole. The American auto industry should capitalize on GM’s success and continue to produce environmentally friendly cars.

The Volt triumphed over 20 finalists, finishing in front of 10 Asian cars, six European cars and four other American cars for the Car of the Year award. The criteria for selection included advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value and intended function. GM’s product is different from ordinary hybrid cars because it runs solely on electricity whenever possible — with an electrical range of 50 miles per charge. Motor Trend Magazine called the car a “game changer.”

The win is important to the state and the country as it signifies the resurgence of the American auto industry. Most importantly for Michigan, this means more jobs in a state that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. But it also means that many of these jobs will contribute to sustainability and the development of green technologies. In November, GM announced that it would create 1,000 new engineering and development jobs in Michigan as a part of its vehicle electrification program. As GM continues to expand and advance its production, these job opportunities are sure to increase.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his colleagues in Lansing and on Capitol Hill should take note of GM’s success. The future of Michigan’s economy depends on innovative and green technologies rather than gas-guzzling SUVs. In the past, international companies greatly outweighed GM in advanced and efficient technologies, but the Volt’s emergence gives the American auto industry its first opportunity in a while to lead the pact in smarter and more fuel-efficient cars. On the national stage, greater fuel efficiency also means a smaller carbon footprint for the country and a lower dependence on foreign oil.

The Volt reduces the environmental impact of cars and provides an alternative to the current market of hybrid cars. It was named the 2011 Green Car of the Year by the Green Car Journal and was the first electric car to have won this award. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, GM recycles material by-products to make the Volt a particularly practical and eco-friendly car. With environmental threats like pollution and global warming becoming more serious, electric cars like the Volt will help to alleviate these problems.

GM has created a product that will boost the economy of the state and country as well as contribute to preserving the environment. The Volt should become the industry standard and auto companies should work toward developing entirely gas independent electric cars.

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