Biden allocates $1.7 billion to boost electric vehicle manufacturing and assembly in eight states

AP (AMENDED) — The Biden administration is awarding nearly $2 billion in grants to restart or expand electric vehicle production and assembly in eight states, including presidential battlegrounds Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

This comes two days after the Detroit Department of Transportation received $30.8 million in federal funding to purchase new electric buses.

DDOT receives $30.8 million in federal funding to purchase new electric buses

The Energy Department will provide grants totaling $1.7 billion to create or retain thousands of union jobs and support car-based communities that have long powered the U.S. economy, the White House said Thursday. In addition to the three battleground states, grants will also go to EV facilities in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Virginia.

According to the White House, the subsidies cover a wide range of parts of the automotive supply chain, including parts for electric motorcycles and school buses, hybrid powertrains, batteries for heavy-duty trucks and electric SUVs.

“Building a clean energy economy can and should be a win-win for union autoworkers and automakers,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “This investment will create thousands of good-paying, union manufacturing jobs and preserve even more — from Lansing, Michigan, to Fort Valley, Georgia — by helping auto companies retool, restart and rehire in the same factories and communities.”

The subsidies, paid for by the historic 2022 climate law, will help fulfill his promise to ensure the future of America’s auto industry is created by American union members, Biden said.

“Workers who were abandoned by my predecessor are now making a comeback thanks to the support of my policies, including the conversion grants my administration is announcing today,” the Democratic president said.

The grant announcement comes as Biden fends off calls to step aside after a disastrous debate performance last month. Biden, 81, has acknowledged his poor performance but dismissed it as a “bad night,” while many Democrats in Congress, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have refused to give him a full vote of confidence.

Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, continues to maintain a firm grip on the Republican Party, even after becoming the first former president to be convicted of a crime.

“There is nothing harder for a manufacturing community than losing jobs to foreign competition and a changing industry,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan. Even as competitors like China invest heavily in electric vehicles, the subsidies announced Thursday will help “ensure that our auto industry remains competitive — and do so in the communities and with the workforce that has supported the auto industry for generations,” Granholm said.

The new subsidies complement the $177 billion in private sector investment in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing since Biden took office, Granholm and other officials said.

Awards are subject to negotiations to ensure commitments to workers and communities are met, officials said. The Department of Energy also will complete environmental reviews before awarding the money later this year.

If completed as planned, the selected projects would create more than 2,900 jobs and help retain about 15,000 union members across all 11 facilities, the White House said. The awards follow successful union organizing campaigns from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Fort Valley, Georgia, the White House said.

“The president is not going to take his foot off the gas pedal when it comes to supporting the American auto industry,” said Lael Brainard, White House national economic adviser.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the US, and Biden has made electric vehicles a key part of his climate agenda.

“We’re not only delivering new sources of clean transportation — that iconic yellow school bus turning green — but we’re also giving the American people options to … save thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of a vehicle” by going electric, said White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi.

Companies eligible for awards include Blue Bird Body Co., which will receive nearly $80 million to convert a Georgia site formerly used to make diesel motorhomes into electric school buses. Fiat Chrysler will receive nearly $335 million to convert an idled assembly plant in Illinois into a plant to assemble electric vehicles, and $250 million in a separate grant to convert a transmission plant in Indiana into a plant to make electric drive modules for electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, General Motors will receive $500 million to convert an assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan, to produce electric vehicles. GM’s production lines will further support and benefit from continued investment in a U.S. battery supply chain that accelerates the commercialization of advanced, affordable electric vehicles, the White House said.

Harley-Davidson will receive $89 million to expand a factory in York, Pennsylvania, to make electric motorcycles, and Volvo Group will receive $208 million to upgrade three manufacturing facilities that supply and build Mack and Volvo-branded heavy-duty trucks. The plants are located in Macungie, Pennsylvania; Dublin, Virginia; and Hagerstown, Maryland.

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