Biden administration giving $1.7B to auto industry to bolster US EV production

The Biden administration will dole out $1.7 billion to automotive companies to bolster their efforts to manufacture electric cars, trucks and motorcycles.

The funds, which will cover 11 projects, are expected to help companies transition their facilities to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing or to help them expand existing EV operations.

An administration official told reporters that facilities that had temporarily closed or were at risk of closing were prioritized for funding.

In a written statement, President Biden touted the initiative as beneficial for both the climate and workers.

“Building a clean energy economy can and should be a win-win for union autoworkers and automakers,” Biden said.

“This investment will create thousands of good-paying, union manufacturing jobs and retain even more … by helping auto companies retool, reboot, and rehire in the same factories and communities,” he added.

The grants come as cost-sharing agreements, as the companies also invest money in the projects.

Those selected include a project in which Fiat Chrysler would convert its idled Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois to an electric car manufacturer. The same company would also convert an Indiana facility to make EVs, and General Motors would convert a gas-powered car factory in Lansing, Mich., to an EV plant.

Other projects would upgrade three Volvo facilities to make electric trucks, enable Harley Davidson to expand its electric motorcycle operations, and allow a Hyundai subsidiary to both continue to make gas-powered cars alongside plug-in hybrids and construct a new battery system plant.

Biden and former President Trump have sparred over the issues of electric vehicles and jobs. Trump has argued that the transition to electric is bad for workers, hammering this point in swing states such as Michigan, where automanufacturing is central to the economy.

Biden, however, has argued that the two can go hand in hand, and supported workers who went on strike last year amid union negotiations.

In his statement, Biden also swiped at Trump, saying “this delivers on my commitment to never give up on the manufacturing communities and workers that were left behind by my predecessor.”

The funding for the grants comes from the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. That law also includes consumer tax credits for EVs — though to get the entire credit, a vehicle’s battery has to be assembled in North America.

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