FILE - Automaton robot, car factory, assembly line

The Department of Energy plans to invest $80 million in advanced car technology. About $12.5 million, which is approximately 15 percent of the funds, is headed to Michigan, which is the home state of America’s top automakers.

“Improving the affordability of transportation for American consumers and businesses keeps our economy moving,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a statement. “By investing in a broad range of technologies, DOE is ensuring America remains at the forefront of innovation.”

The University of Michigan and the Ford Motor Company will receive about $3.5 million each, the American Center of Mobility will receive just under $2.5 million, the Hyundai-Kia America Technological Center will receive just over $2 million and Michigan State University will receive receive nearly $1 million.

These projects will include studies related to lessening the environmental impact, increasing fuel efficiency and studying corrosion of materials.

According to the DOE’s news release, the goals of these grants include advancing vehicle technology, growing the U.S. economy, strengthening domestic energy and reducing foreign dependence. There are a total of 42 projects throughout the country.

Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder applauded the DOE’s investments and touted Michigan’s record on automotive innovation.

“Michigan continues to lead in automotive innovation, and just last month I hosted the Ambassador of the UK at the Capitol to share information on electric vehicle technologies,” Snyder told Watchdog.org. “Being able to charge electric vehicles at a rapid rate is the next step in EV adoption, and I appreciate public-private partnerships such as this one that help move these advancements forward.”

Not everyone sees government involvement in this area as a positive.

Michael LaFaive, the senior director of fiscal policy at the free-market, Michigan-based think tank, the Mackinac Center, told Watchdog.org the government’s role should be less proactive.

“Government’s role should be more mundane: protection of property rights and the rule of law,” LaFaive said. “It should stick to its knitting rather than try to divine the next great technology and offer up taxpayer-funded grants.”

LaFaive said that entrepreneurs have their own incentives to innovate technology without subsidies. There is no justification, he said, for “confiscating wealth from everyone” to give to a select group of people to use in resources. Doing this will take resources out of the market and out of the hands of the next potential innovator, he said.

“How many great ideas were born, and commercialized, because of a government grant?” LaFaive asked.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.