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TN Turns a New Leaf

June 21, 2011

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Tennessee could be the big winner in the global market to produce the next generation of cars that run on electricity. The Tennessee Electric Vehicle Summit, organized by automaker Nissan and the Pew Clean Energy Program, was held Monday in Franklin, not far from where Nissan will produce batteries for its electric Leaf vehicle.

Pew encourages the growth of electric vehicle production and the clean energy economy. Former Michigan governor and Pew advisor Jennifer Granholm participated in the summit and says Tennessee is playing a key role in the developing electric-car industry.

"The Leaf is all-electric, and they are going to be bringing the production of those batteries that run the electric vehicles here to Tennessee."

Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Nissan manufacturing facility in the town of Smyrna represent an investment of up to $1.7 billion. Granholm says the U.S. must become a leader in producing electric vehicles, or other nations, such as China, are poised to dominate this growing industry.

She says that even if gasoline were at a price of $3 a gallon, electric vehicles are far more economical to run per mile than those that need gas.

"Between two to three cents versus 14 cents; it is an unbelievable differential."

Pew Clean Energy Program Director Phyllis Cuttino says a key to job growth in places like Tennessee is the clean-energy economy. She says a 2009 Pew report on clean-energy jobs revealed good news for the state.

"Tennessee was one of the three fastest-growing states in the country when it came to the clean-energy economy."

President Obama has set a goal of bringing a million electric vehicles to U.S. roads by 2015.

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Glen Gardner, Public News Service - TN