I’ve attended a lot of groundbreakings and plant dedications but Monday, June 21, was a little different … and not because it was the longest day of the year. It’s the first time I was invited to a groundbreaking in another state.
Vice President Joe Biden, Michigan Governor Jennifer Grandholm and U.S. Senators Stabenow and Levin joined the CEO of Dow, Andrew Leveris, and the CEO of Dow Kokam, Ravi Shankar, to break ground on a new lithium polymer battery plant in Midland Michigan.
Along with a great team from Lee’s Summit, I was the guest of Dow Kokam because the next plant is slated for the Kansas City region – Lee’s Summit in particular. The new facility will employ 800, cost $600 million, and produce batteries to power 60,000 vehicles. That’s a drop in the bucket given the national target of one million electric drive vehicles by 2015.
I sat next to Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV) of Kansas City, the nation’s only producer of electric drive delivery trucks. Bryan had an electric drive Frito Lay vehicle on display. SEV is producing 20 vehicles per month with demand and output steadily increasing. There is nothing Bryan would like more (other than a tax credit for purchasers of electric vehicles) than to have Dow Kokam producing batteries in his neighborhood.
Clearly the world of transportation is changing. This is not the end of the internal combustion engine … far from it. In the words of Winston Churchill “it is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”
We are optimistic about a similar groundbreaking in Lee’s Summit in 2011. Stay tuned …