WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 08: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration’s efforts to increase manufacturing alongside members of his cabinet and Congress, in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on February 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden announced plans for Tritium to construct a new electric vehicle charging plant in Tennessee. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Australian electric vehicle charging station manufacturer Tritium will open its first U.S. plant in Lebanon, Tenn., CEO Jane Hunter said during a White House event Tuesday.
The factory would be the company’s largest worldwide, and is expected to begin production in the fall, Hunter said, crediting President Joe Biden’s policies with creating the demand that led to the decision.
The facility would be able to produce 10,000 fast-charging units per year to start, ramping up to as many as 30,000 per year, Hunter said.
Biden set a goal last year to have electric vehicles make up half of new U.S. vehicles by 2030. The administration-sponsored bipartisan infrastructure law that was enacted last year includes funding for states to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Biden, whose poll numbers have sagged in recent months amid rising inflation, emphasized the economic benefits of boosting electric vehicle infrastructure.
The Tritium plant will create 500 jobs in the Lebanon area, he said. The facility will make charging stations that would be installed by union workers “up and down the highways and corridors all across the country,” Biden said, using American parts and steel.
Neither Biden nor Hunter said the Tennessee facility would be staffed with union employees. Tennessee is among the so-called right-to-work states that generally discourage union membership compared with other states.
“The benefits are going to ripple thousands of miles in every direction,” Biden said. “And then these jobs will multiply in steel mills, small parts suppliers, construction sites all over the country in the years to come.”
Hunter said a rapid switch to electric vehicles would create “a very substantial improvement in human health and the environment.”
Traditional vehicles are a major contributor to climate change, with the transportation sector making up the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Hunter compared the effort to boost electric vehicle infrastructure with the creation of the interstate highway system.
“In the 1950s, the United States had the foresight to build the unparalleled U.S. highway system,” Hunter said. “This administration’s forward-thinking vision to electrify that system is going to help American families.”
Biden predicted the roughly 600,000 vehicles owned by the federal government would one day all be electric.
Biden thanked Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, who he said “worked hard to help make this happen.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat retiring at the end of this term, and the administration’s infrastructure director, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, both attended Tuesday’s event but did not speak.
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