UAW supports Biden’s $15.5B plan to fund manufacture of hybrids, EVs
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $15.5 billion in funding and loans for the automotive industry. The package is primarily focused on retooling existing factories so that they can transition to building electric vehicles. $2 billion in grants and up to $10 billion in loans will be available to support automotive manufacturing conversion projects that retain “high-quality jobs” in communities that currently host these manufacturing facilities.
“President Biden is investing in the workforce and factories that made our country a global manufacturing powerhouse,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcements show that President Biden understands that building the cars of the future also necessitates helping the communities challenged by the transition away from the internal combustion engine.”
Among the announcements is a new $2 billion funding opportunity to spur the conversion of long-standing facilities to the manufacture of electric vehicles and related components. The Domestic Manufacturing Conversion Grants for electrified vehicles program will provide cost-shared grants for domestic production of hybrid, plug-in electric hybrid, plug-in electric drive, and hydrogen fuel cell/electric vehicles.
“Particular attention” will be paid “to communities supporting facilities with longer histories in automotive manufacturing. Preference will also be given to projects that commit to pay high wages for production workers and maintain collective bargaining agreements.” In other words, mostly Michigan.
The DOE is also making available up to $10 billion in loan authority for applications under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program for automotive manufacturing conversion projects that retain high-quality jobs in communities that currently host manufacturing facilities. Examples include retaining high wages and benefits, including workplace rights, or commitments such as keeping the existing facility open until a new facility is complete, in the case of facility replacement projects.
DOE also announced its intent to invest approximately $3.5 billion to boost the production of advanced batteries and battery materials that are critical to rapidly growing clean energy industries of the future, including electric vehicles and energy storage. This notice of intent represents the second round of funding for battery materials processing and battery manufacturing grants to support the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded domestic commercial facilities for battery materials, battery components, and cell manufacturing.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain applauded the move. “We are glad to see the Biden Administration doing its part to reject the false choice between a good job and a green job. This new policy makes clear to employers that the EV transition must include strong union partnerships with the high pay and safety standards that generations of UAW members have fought for and won.
“The Big Three have closed or spun off 65 plants in the last 20 years,” Fain said. “The automakers have not yet promised job security in our ongoing negotiations. I have traveled across the country, meeting displaced workers who’ve had to pick up and move their families when plants shut down recently in Belvidere, Illinois; Lordstown, Ohio; and Romeo, Michigan. These new grants and loans will give plants like these a chance for federal support to ensure those jobs and communities are protected.”