President Biden visited the Detroit Auto Show Wednesday, using the backdrop to announce $900 million in grants for electric vehicle charging systems distributed to 35 states.
The grants form the initial investment in what will become $5 billion allocated as part of last November’s bipartisan infrastructure law.
“You are going to be part of a network of 500,000 charging stations,” Biden said a crowd of union workers at the show. “The great American road trip is going to be fully electrified whether you’re driving along the coast, or on I-75 here in Michigan.”
President tours the show floor
Security was tight at Huntington Place — formerly Cobo Hall — convention center throughout the day. Secret Service inspected every vehicle arriving at the parking structure, including a visit by a bomb-sniffing dog.
After the first few press conferences, everyone was ushered out of the main show floor before the President and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg took their tour accompanied by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, auto industry executives, and members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation.
The president said it was Whitmer who invited him to check out the show. He also got the chance to get behind the wheel of a few of the electrics, including the Cadillac Lyriq. However, Biden couldn’t help but default to his longtime favorite — the Corvette.
“It’s a beautiful car, but I love the Corvette,” he said. Biden famously still owns the 1967 Corvette Stingray his father, a former GM distributor, bought him as a wedding gift.
Biden also toured the Ford and Stellantis displays after talking up the $900 million investment.
Big investment needed to hit target
Upgrading the country’s charging network is critical to Biden’s national goal for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all vehicles sold in the United States by 2030. Per the terms of the next round of EV tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, the White House and Congress are attempting to make both new and used EVs affordable, as well as bolstering the auto industry generally.
“You couldn’t have bigger forces at work,” said Scott Painter, CEO of Autonomy, a subscription-based Tesla supplier. “Supply chain, gas prices, inflation, all these things are forcing a conversion to electric mobility. It’s an historic level of effort right now with investments in manufacturing and the tax credits. People are willing to change, automakers are willing to change. The President is not missing anything; he’s closing the lid on how this plays out. We are going to an electric future, and it all comes down to affordability.”
If the President’s visit to the Motor City’s biggest celebration of its native industry seems like a victory lap, that’s because it is. With the final primary contests of the 2022 Congressional election completed just the day before, the race for control of Congress kicks off today.
Naturally, with a major election looming, the President is eager to talk up his accomplishments and the legislation completed by the Democrats in Washington. By making this major announcement at the auto show, the President hopes to connect with voters concerned with jobs, high fuel prices, and climate change.