Auto show? Politics can't be too far behind


Automotive News | January 7, 2012 - 12:01 am EST

It's an election year and the parade of candidates and their surrogates planning to use the Detroit show as a campaign forum has begun. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is among the first to commit.

He'll tour the auto show floor and meet with science students at Detroit's Cass Tech High School. The trip is part of the Obama administration's effort to highlight its rescue of the auto industry in 2009, which included the government-sponsored bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Obama captured Michigan in 2008 and the state is expected to be a key battegound in 2012.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, EPA Admininstrator Lisa Jackson and NHTSA chief Dave Strickland are also scheduled to appear in Detroit.

Chu will walk the Detroit auto show floor on Tuesday, before addressing the Detroit Economic Club early Wednesday morning.

The Department of Energy has made a big financial push to bolster the auto industry's development of advance vehicle technologies, particularly in the areas of battery-electric vehicles.

In 2008, the department set aside $25 billion in loan funding to aid car makers and suppliers in their efforts to put more fuel-efficient cars on the road.

Ford, Nissan and Tesla Motors are among the companies that have received loans. Chrysler has an application pending.

Look for Chu to review those efforts on the show floor.

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