Kudos to CAR for bringing in Boston executive

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- I applaud the Center for Automotive Research for having the CEO of battery maker Boston-Power Inc. on the program today for two reasons.

Confession: I didn’t even listen to CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud’s presentation. I was editing and had assigned someone on our reporting team to cover her talk.

But I noticed that CAR had put a battery maker and a steel maker (AK Steel CEO James Wainscott) on the high-profile final day’s program of the Management Briefing Seminars.

Check the symbolism. Steel and batteries. Are those the key components of cars of the future? Or is one the past and the other the future? There’s a good debate there, but both components belong at the seminars this year.

And the second reason? Boston-Power is not a Michigan company. It’s in Westborough, Mass., which is about 33 miles west of Boston.

There are lots of battery makers in Michigan, and those of us who frequent conferences in this state have heard several of them. CAR, this conference and too many folks in this industry (and in Congress) still think of automotive as a Michigan industry.

I have been at conferences here and among automotive folks in the U.S. South, and too often it feels like some folks both here and there are still trying to fight the Civil War.

The more the folks in Michigan recognize the importance of the automotive industry beyond the Midwest, the better. People in the industry need to work together in such areas as getting Congress to pay more attention to manufacturing, and regional parochialism doesn’t help.

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