DETROIT (AP) – President Joe Bidena “car boy” with his vintage Corvette, showed his administration’s efforts to promote electric vehicles during a visit Wednesday at the Detroit auto show.
Biden went to massive North American International Auto Show to link huge new climate, tax and health care law which offers tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. He visited a mix of American-made hybrid, electric, and combustion vehicles from Chevrolet, General Motors, Ford and Stellantis in a closed convention center and greeted union workers, CEOs and local leaders.
“You all know I’m a car type,” Biden told a roaring crowd of auto workers, adding that cars “just give me a sense of optimism, although I also like speed.”
While Biden took credit for the recent boom in ads for electric vehicle batteries and assembly plantsmost were in the works long before the inflation reduction law was signed into law on August 16. Biden’s 2021 infrastructure legislation may have something to do with this: it provides $ 5 billion in five years to help states create a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
In Detroit, Biden announced the approval of the first $ 900 million in infrastructure money to build electric vehicle chargers on 53,000 miles of the national highway system in 35 states.
“The great American road trip is going to be completely thrilling,” Biden said.
It also highlighted the law’s funding to support infrastructure projects in Detroit and throughout Michigan.
“When you see these big projects in your hometowns,” Biden said, “I want you to feel the way I do: pride. Pride in what we can do when we do it together.”
The president credited United Auto Workers and other unions for supporting him in his 2020 candidacy for the White House. He highlighted how his administration worked to promote union contracts for large projects, calling union workers the “most skilled” in the nation.
“The middle class built America and the unions built the middle class,” Biden said.
He also found time for party politics. She commended Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who will be re-elected in November, calling her “a great governor” who made the best use of federal resources for her state. Biden also participated in a Michigan Democratic Party fundraiser in the name of his re-election campaign.
During a tour of the convention center, the Democratic president, who recently took a ride in his 1967 pine-green Stingray with Jay Leno for a segment on CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage,” jumped into the driver’s seat of a Chevrolet Corvette. bright orange Z06 – which starts at $ 106,000 and isn’t an EV – and has its engine running, along with GM CEO Mary Barra.
“He says he’s driving home,” he joked.
Biden then toured the new electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, marveling with Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford at the model’s performance. “It’s amazing the speed,” Biden said, adding, “Does it have a start button?” He also explored less flashy vehicles, such as Ford’s all-electric E-Transit van and the F-150 truck.
Biden finally got behind the wheel of an all-electric Cadillac Lyriq SUV, which starts at $ 63,000, briefly driving it down a blue carpeted lobby corridor. He marked a rare opportunity to drive, albeit a little more than a walking pace, for the president, who is usually transported in US intelligence armored vehicles when out in public.
“Come in, I’ll give you a ride to Washington,” he joked to reporters. “It’s a nice car,” she said, “but I love the Corvette.”
Under the new law, electric vehicles must be built in North America to be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $ 7,500. Batteries for eligible vehicles must also be manufactured in North America, and there are requirements for the production or recycling of battery minerals on the continent. The credits aim to create an electric vehicle supply chain in the United States and to end dependence on other countries, mainly China.
The passage of the measure triggered a rush by automakers to accelerate efforts to find North American-made batteries and battery minerals from the United States, Canada, or Mexico to make sure EVs are eligible for credit.
In April, Ford began building electric pickup trucks at a new Michigan factory. General Motors renovated an old factory in Detroit to produce Hummers and electric pickups.
Long before lawmakers reached a compromise on the legislation, each company announced three electric vehicle battery factories, all joint ventures with battery makers. A GM battery plant in Warren, Ohio has already begun production. A government loan announced in July will help GM build its battery factories.
Ford said last September that it will build the next generation of electric pickups at a plant in Tennessee and GM announced electric vehicle assembly plants in Lansing, Michigan; Spring Hill, Tennessee; and Orion Township, Michigan. In May, Stellantis, formerly of Fiat Chrysler, said it would build another joint venture battery factory in Indiana and announced a battery plant in Canada.
Hyundai announced construction of battery and assembly plants in Georgia in May, and Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced plants in North Carolina in July. Honda and Toyota both announced battery plants in the United States after the act was passed, but they had been planned for months.
Biden has long talked about the importance of building a domestic electric vehicle supply chain and that may have prompted some companies to locate plants in the United States, but it’s also beneficial to build batteries near where the electric vehicles will be assembled because the batteries are heavy and expensive to ship from abroad.
And auto companies are rolling out cheaper electric options despite the battery costs. The latest came last week from General Motors, a small Chevrolet Equinox SUV. It has a starting price of around $ 30,000 and a range of 250 miles, or 400 kilometers. Buyers can get a range of 300 miles, or 500 kilometers, if they pay more.
Equinox controls the North American assembly box. It will be produced in Mexico. The company does not say where the battery will be produced, but is working to meet the other criteria for obtaining the tax credit.
It will take more than government money to build enough charging stations to ease public anxiety of running out of power with an electric vehicle, said Christian Meunier, CEO of Stellantis’ Jeep brand. But Biden’s announced money should bring in more private investment, he said.
“There is a momentum. There will be a business case for private companies to invest more, “Meunier said on the auto show floor.” It will grow exponentially. “
Krisher reported from Detroit. AP writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed.