White House doubles down on electric vehicles as Trump derides them


The White House has announced plans to invest nearly $2 billion in electric vehicles, doubling down on the administration’s EV push as former President Donald Trump campaigns hard against it.

President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy unveiled a $1.7 billion program Thursday to convert 11 closed or “at-risk” auto manufacturing facilities in eight states into electric vehicle facilities. Those states include Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Virginia.

“We’re giving 15,000 American workers the chance to keep their jobs,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on a call with reporters previewing the announcement. “We’re giving the communities who built American cars for generations the chance to build the vehicles of the future, and we’re giving American manufacturing a chance to get off the sidelines and get a better competition.”

The program will additionally lead to 2,900 new jobs, officials said, with most of those filled by labor union members, and could nearly double the annual domestic output of electric vehicles.

“This investment will create thousands of good-paying, union manufacturing jobs and retain even more— from Lansing, Michigan to Fort Valley, Georgia — by helping auto companies retool, reboot, and rehire in the same factories and communities,” Biden said in a prepared statement. “This delivers on my commitment to never give up on the manufacturing communities and workers that were left behind by my predecessor.”

From a political standpoint, the announcement represents a doubling down on Biden’s EV push as Trump makes disparaging EVs a central theme of his campaign.

“If Joe Biden’s extremist mandate is allowed to stand, gas-powered cars will be gone, Iowa ethanol will be totally destroyed, and the economy of this state will be decimated,” Trump said last fall. “When I’m back in the White House, I will save Iowa ethanol by repealing Joe Biden’s absolutely insane, job-killing electric vehicle mandate on day one.”

Trump also made a speech in Michigan last fall during which he warned, “The auto industry is being assassinated. … It’s a hit job on Michigan and on Detroit. … All of these cars will be manufactured in foreign lands that you couldn’t care less about.”

Criticizing electric vehicles has since become a standard portion of his rally speeches.

But Biden’s team evidently thinks promoting electric vehicles is a winning strategy. Officials promised that the new program, which uses funds authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, would lead to a $3.9 billion economic impact that also met climate change goals.

“We can and must build a clean energy economy that benefits everyone,” John Podesta, Biden’s senior adviser for international climate policy, said, “one that brings new industries to life, creates the high-performance, clean vehicles of the future, leaves workers better off than they were before, improves public health, and takes care of our planet.”

Many details of the program remain unresolved, such as exactly when the projects would begin. The release noted that there would be “negotiations” with companies receiving any grants, along with milestones set to unlock future rounds of funding.

Projects would be subject to environmental reviews, companies would be expected to “partner” with labor unions, and the release says the Department of Energy “may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason.”

Not all manufacturing facilities under the initiative will make strictly electric vehicles, as some could manufacture hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell autos. In addition to cars and trucks, facilities could also make school buses and motorcycles.

The list of companies receiving grants includes the Georgia-based Blue Bird bus company, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Harley Davidson, and Volvo Technology of America.

Biden has sought to counter Trump’s message that EVs would be made in China by announcing a quadrupled tariff on Chinese steel and aluminum imports.

“Because Chinese steel companies produce a lot more steel than China needs, it ends up dumping the extra steel into the global markets at unfairly low prices,” Biden told a group of union workers in Pittsburgh in April.


Both major party candidates are intensely focused on the Rust Belt swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, announcing manufacturing and tariff initiatives designed to appeal to blue-collar workers in those states.

Two of those states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, are among the eight mentioned in the new grant program, along with a third swing state, Georgia, that Biden won in 2020 and is hoping to keep in his camp this fall.

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