Biden jumps into Corvette, declares Detroit ‘back’ at EV-focused auto show

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DETROIT, Sept 14 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden took a victory lap on Wednesday at the Detroit auto show as he touted automakers’ push for electric vehicles, including billions of dollars in investment in battery plants, amid new government support.

Self-proclaimed “car guy” Biden climbed into a silver electric Cadillac SUV and an orange Corvette, cheering with the industry’s union workers and declaring that the city, the birthplace of the auto industry, was making a comeback.

Detroit’s auto show is the largest in North America and a key stop on Democrat Biden’s beefed-up travel agenda for the midterm elections, as he touts new laws to fund infrastructure and give consumers subsidies to buy electric cars.

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“We choose to build a better America, an America that confronts the climate crisis, with American workers leading the way,” Biden said in a speech at the fair.

The president was introduced by local union worker Ryan Buchalski, who said the president “kicked the working class.”

Biden announced the approval of the first $900 million in US funding to build electric charging stations in 35 states, part of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved last November.

When he served as vice president in the Obama administration, Biden attended the Detroit auto show as a strong advocate of the 2008-09 bailouts of General Motors Co ( GM.N ) and Chrysler, now part of Stellantis NV ( STLA.MI ) ).

Now Detroit’s three major automakers – GM, Ford Motor Co (FN) and Chrysler – are showing off new electric cars at the auto show, while Congress and Biden are promising tens of billions of dollars in loans, manufacturing and consumer tax credits and grants to speed the transition from combustion vehicles to cleaner ones electric cars.

The “great American road trip is going to be completely electrified,” Biden declared.

In August 2021, Biden set a goal that electric cars or plug-in hybrids represent 50% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030. The Detroit Three support the non-binding 50% goal, but Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) dominates the U.S. market for electric vehicles and outsell the Detroit automakers combined on electric vehicles.

US sales of electric vehicles rose 83% last year, but represent a meager 3% of the market, and gasoline-powered trucks were well represented at the show.


White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi told Reuters that in 2022, automakers and battery companies announced “$13 billion in electric vehicle production” as they step up their investment in capital projects here in the United States.

In July, the U.S. Energy Department said it plans to lend Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of GM and LG Energy Solution ( 373220.KS ), $2.5 billion to help finance construction of new lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities.

Honda Motor Co Ltd ( 7267.T ) recently announced it will build a new $4.4 billion lithium-ion battery plant for U.S. electric vehicles with Korean battery supplier LG Energy Solution Ltd.

Toyota Motor Corp ( 7203.T ) said it will raise its planned investment in a new U.S. battery plant from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion.

GM and LG Energy Solutions in August started production at their $2.3 billion joint venture battery manufacturing facility in Ohio. The companies are considering a site in New Carlisle, Indiana, for a fourth U.S. battery cell manufacturing facility expected to cost about $2.4 billion.

“I think we can own the future of the auto market. I think we can own the future of manufacturing,” Biden said. “American manufacturing is back. Detroit is back. America is back, and folks, we’re proving that betting against the American people is never, ever, ever a good bet.”

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Reporting by David Shepardson and Jeff Mason in Detroit and Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia Editing by Heather Timmons, David Gregorio and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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