After helping kick start sales of the Ford F-150 Lightning last spring, President Joe Biden flew back to the Motor City this week for a tour and dedication of General Motors’ Factory Zero, the home GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and other electric vehicles.
Biden recounted for the audience of GM employees, local and state politicians, and dignitaries as well as officials from the United Auto Workers, the Hummer EV made a mighty impression on him.
Noting the vintage Corvette he owns could go from zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds, Biden described the new EV as a “masterpiece of American technology built by union labor” after taking it for short spin.
“That Hummer is one helluva a vehicle,” said Biden, who also used his appearance at Factory Zero to amplify his administration’s commitment to electric vehicles and to tout the benefits of his new infrastructure plan, which includes the largest investment in road in the United States as well as billions of dollars for new bridges and a network of electric vehicle chargers across the country.
Barra praised for her role
Biden singled out for special praise GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, who was frequently criticized by former President Donald Trump, “You are an incredible leader,” said Biden, who cited her leadership in moving GM toward an all-electric future, as a catalyst for leading other auto companies to make similar commitments.
During her remarks, Barra said the renovation of aging Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant is emblematic of GM’s commitment to a zero-emission future. “We announced the transformation of this plant two years ago,” added Barra, noting GM’s experienced and dedicated workforce is a critical part of the company’s efforts to phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035.
“When I was the plant manager here 20 years ago, I never imagined anything like this,” added Barra, who said GM would soon announce plans for a second electric truck plant in the near future, noting it would be in the U.S.
As it stands, Factory Zero is scheduled to build not only the GMC Hummer EV pickup but also the GMC Hummer SUV, the Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck and the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle, which was on display during the dedication.
When it is operating at full speed, the plant is expected to employ 2,200 or about twice as many as it did when it shut down for renovation in 2020, said UAW vice president Terry Dittes, giving a major boost to the City of Detroit.
GM officials also emphasized the plant will begin shipping finished GMC Hummer EVs to customers before the end of the year.
Both Biden and Barra praised the work of the Michigan Congressional delegation, which were described as instrumental in passing the critical infrastructure legislation.
Event had political overtones
The choreographed appearance of the President at Factory Zero had the feel of a political rally as Biden made a point of countering negative headlines about inflation and supply chain issues. Citing a series of new reports, Biden noted analysts now say the infrastructure package will ultimately reduce inflationary pressure by fostering long-term growth and raising productivity.
In addition, the U.S. economy added 710,000 more jobs during the past four months than originally reported, while wages are going up. Biden noted 5.6 million new jobs had been created before the new number was revealed earlier today.
Meanwhile, he said Walmart and Target both announced they will be fully stocked for the Christmas season, easing fears of shortages created around the supply chains. He also repeatedly expressed his support for the UAW and unions in general during his speech. UAW President Ray Curry offered praise for the president during his speech.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) also made a point of dismissing criticism of the EV incentives built into the Build Back Better bill now pending in Congress. The bill offers larger tax credits to consumers who purchase vehicles made in the U.S with union labor.
Toyota has no right to complain about extra tax credits for vehicles built by members of the UAW since has a Japanese company it has long benefitted from subsidies and tax breaks, which are not available to companies based in the U.S.