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Biden awards 0 million to two Michigan auto factories to produce more electric vehicles
Biden awards 0 million to two Michigan auto factories to produce more electric vehicles

The Biden administration on Thursday announced more than $1 billion in grants to help convert or reopen 11 auto plants to produce electric vehicles, with more than $650 million of that earmarked for two factories in Michigan.

The Michigan plants include General Motors’ Lansing Grand River Assembly, which is being rebuilt to produce new electric cars and could receive up to $500 million if it meets retooling, production and hiring/retention goals like the other projects. The plan calls for preserving more than 650 UAW jobs at the plant and hiring 50 new ones.

ZF North America Inc. also received a grant of up to $158 million to convert part of its Marysville plant in St. Clair County from making parts for internal combustion vehicles to components for electric vehicles. The grant is expected to retain 536 jobs, including 387 UAW employees.

The announcement came just before President Joe Biden makes a campaign trip to Detroit on Friday as he seeks to allay growing concerns that his re-election is in jeopardy. Polls show him trailing former President Donald Trump in Michigan and other swing states, and he struggled to answer questions coherently at a debate two weeks ago.

The list of grant recipients also includes $335 million to reopen and convert Stellantis’ shuttered Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, to produce electric vehicles, restoring about 1,450 union jobs. Another $250 million will go to convert Stellantis’ transmission plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to produce electric drive modules that combine the motor, transmission and other electronics into a single unit for battery-powered electric vehicles, preserving 585 union jobs at the plant.

The UAW’s successful strike negotiations last year allowed the Belvidere plant to reopen. During that strike, Biden, a staunch union supporter, came to Michigan and became the first sitting president to picket with striking workers.

Other plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia also received grants to strengthen supply chains and assembly of electric cars, trucks and buses. The funds were included in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress in 2022.

“There is nothing worse for a manufacturing community than losing jobs to foreign competition and a changing industry,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan. “Even as our competitors invest heavily in electric vehicles, these grants ensure our auto industry remains competitive – in the communities and with the workforce that have supported the auto industry for generations.”

Trump and Republicans, however, have criticized the Biden administration’s efforts to help automakers produce and sell more electric vehicles, particularly emissions rules that they say amount to a mandate forcing manufacturers to sell vehicles the public may not want or be able to afford, or face penalties.

Contact Todd Spangler: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter@tsspangler.

By Isla