© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Attendees walk past Alfa Romeo vehicles at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said on Friday he plans to attend the Detroit auto show later this month as his administration touts a rising number of investments in electric vehicles and battery manufacturing.
“I’ll be there. I’m a car guy – as you kind of noticed,” Biden said at an event. The Commerce Department on Friday awarded $52.2 million to a Detroit regional program called the “Global Epicenter of Mobility” to help Michigan’s automotive sector transition to EVs and autonomous vehicles.
The Commerce Department said despite more than $5 billion in private investment the Detroit region’s “prospects are threatened by rising global competition in the electric and autonomous vehicle market, by the rapid pace of innovation in new mobility solutions and by an aging workforce that needs continuous reskilling to keep up with new products and technologies.”
The White House has heralded a string of recent major investment announcements from U.S. and foreign automakers to build new battery plants and electric vehicles.
This month’s Detroit auto show will be the first time the event has been held since 2019. The show, open to the public from Sept. 17 to Sept. 25, is expected to focus on the shift to EVs.
Biden wants at least 50% of new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric or plug-in electric hybrids.
When he served as vice president in the Obama administration, Biden attended the Detroit auto show and was a strong advocate of the 2008-09 bailouts of GM and Chrysler, which is now part of Stellantis NV.
EV battery makers are looking to increase U.S. production as the country implements stricter regulation and tightens tax credit eligibility.
Japan’s Honda Motor Co Ltd said on Monday it will build a new $4.4 billion lithium-ion battery plant for electric vehicles in the United States with Korean battery supplier LG Energy Solution Ltd.
Also this week, Toyota Motor (NYSE:) Corp said it will boost its planned investment in a new U.S. battery plant from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion, partly in response to rising consumer demand for electric vehicles.
General Motors Co (NYSE:) and LG Energy Solution said this week production had begun at their $2.3 billion joint-venture battery production plant in Ohio. The companies said last month they were considering a site in New Carlisle, Indiana, for a fourth U.S. battery cell manufacturing plant expected to cost around $2.4 billion.