President Joe Biden continued to show his push towards electrification of the auto industry during a visit to Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan on Tuesday. Biden’s visit was partially a showcase of his “American Jobs Plan,” which allocates $174 billion to investing in electric vehicles (EVs) as well as rebates to EV buyers, incentives and grants for charging stations, and the electrification of federally-owned vehicles.
Should the plan work as intended, it would create jobs in both traditional infrastructure upgrades (e.g., roads) as well as climate-friendly manufacturing technologies.
United Auto Workers members are poised to build the new F-150 Lightning pickup truck, which Ford plans to have on the market next year. Biden commented, “this sucker’s quick” after he was photographed taking a test drive in the F-150 Lightning at the Dearborn, Michigan manufacturing plant. When asked if he would buy one, he said yes.
Ford’s Dearborn EV plant has quite a rich American history, first manufacturing warships during World War II and subsequently being the manufacturing plant for the classic Ford Mustang for many years.
While Ford planned to reveal more specifics regarding the truck’s performance during its formal unveiling this week, Biden told reporters he thought it went from zero to 60 miles per hour in just over four seconds during his test drive. Ford’s communications manager Melissa Miller expressed satisfaction regarding the F-150 Lightning, telling reporters that “electrifying America’s best-selling vehicle is a milestone in our country’s transition to cleaner transportation.”
Ford’s F-150 has won the title of the best-selling truck every year since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.
During his campaign last year, Biden stated, “I believe that we can own the 21st century market again by moving to electric vehicles” as he sat in his 1967 Chevy Corvette. He echoed the statement this week, telling reporters in Dearborn that, “The future of the auto industry is electric. There is no turning back.” Biden also touched on China’s progress in the EV competition, saying “Right now, China is leading in the race…they will not win this race. We can’t let them.”
While Biden is the first US president to focus heavily on a full transition to electric vehicles, he is by far not the first president to visit an automaker. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson gave a moving speech to 20,000 Ford employees at Michigan’s Henry Ford Model T plant, which was one of the first plants to have a moving assembly line. More recently, President George W. Bush visited GM and Ford plants in Kansas City in 2007, where he pushed for vehicles that use less or zero gasoline in an effort to reduce oil usage and curb pollution.
In 2010, President Barack Obama visited several automakers to encourage them amid the aftermath of the Great Recession, which had proved to be quite detrimental to the auto industry. One visit was to a Ford plant in Chicago, Illinois, where he made remarks about vehicles becoming more eco-friendly, indicating that “Ford has dedicated itself to increasing fuel efficiency on many models.” He also visited General Motors and Chrysler plants, urging them to remain strong and continue their growth.
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