The Biden administration is putting your money where its mouth is, announcing the allocation of $3.1 billion to aid in the production of more EV batteries and components in the U.S.
In addition to the multi-billion-dollar investment into the EV supply chain, the Department of Energy also noted there is a separate bag of cash — $60 million — to help with second-life applications for those electric vehicle batteries when their no longer viable enough to power an EV.
“Positioning the United States front and center in meeting the growing demand for advanced batteries is how we boost our competitiveness and electrify our transportation system,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in a statement.
“President Biden’s historic investment in battery production and recycling will give our domestic supply chain the jolt it needs to become more secure and less reliant on other nations — strengthening our clean energy economy, creating good paying jobs, and decarbonizing the transportation sector.”
What do you get for $3.1 billion?
The law makes $7 billion to bolster battery production, so this is just the first big round of investment. The infrastructure investments will support the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities as well as manufacturing demonstrations and battery recycling.
What it doesn’t do is help with finding new sources for the materials needed for batteries, such as lithium. The Biden administration is working on trying to help with that as well, enacting the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to ensure access to minerals critical to auto production, including EVs, like copper, nickel and lithium.
However, the administration is trying to resolve several issues at the local level while that happens. That being said, the Energy Department recognizes “(r)esponsible and sustainable domestic sourcing of the critical materials used to make lithium-ion batteries — such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite — will help avoid or mitigate supply chain disruptions and accelerate battery production in America to meet this demand and support the adoption of electric vehicles.”
The move is part of the Biden administration’s goal of getting 50% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be battery electric. The infrastructure law also has $7.5 billion set aside to help with the installation of high-speed chargers across the U.S. That network is currently too small to meet the targets of the administration and several automakers.
Automakers working to bolster battery capability
The funding announcement comes at automakers in the U.S. and globally are hustling to find partners to secure the materials and production capability necessary to meet their very public goals of EV sales. Additionally, their already facing challenges as EV sales in the U.S. were up more than 85% in 2021 and are expected to hit that mark again in 2022.
Not only is Tesla running at full-speed at its plant in California, its GigaTexas plant is now ramping up to full production of the Model Y this year and, reportedly, the Cybertruck and Tesla semi trick in 2023. Ford just kicked off production of its F-150 Lightning just outside of Detroit, in a plant originally designed to produce 25,000 of those trucks, but now aims to produce five times that amount due to demand — which it won’t meet until the end of 2023.
General Motors is producing the GMC Hummer EV truck as well as the new Cadillac Lyriq while startups like Rivian and Lucid are also pushing out new vehicles to customers who have been waiting years in some instances.
With that demand, GM, Ford, Stellantis, Mercedes-Benz and more have all announced partnership with suppliers to either secure battery materials or battery production. Mercedes opened its first battery plant in the U.S. in March.
In December, Toyota announced plans to invest $1.29 billion to build a new battery plant to produce batteries capable of powering 1.2 million electrified vehicles near Greensboro, North Carolina. It was joined by upstart Vietnamese EV maker VinFast, which said it would build its U.S. vehicle and battery assembly plant in North Carolina as well.