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Biden highlights decision of Australian vehicle charging company to build plant in Tenn.

President Biden delivers remarks on his administration’s work to rebuild manufacturing in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on Feb. 8, 2022. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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President Biden on Tuesday highlighted the decision of an Australian electric vehicle charging company to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Tennessee as he held a White House event focused on his vision for “electrifying” transportation and supporting manufacturing jobs.

The facility, to be built by Tritium, is expected to eventually produce as many as 30,000 electric vehicle chargers a year and create 500 local jobs, Biden said, appearing alongside the company’s chief executive, Jane Hunter.

The administration released a federal strategy in December to build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country and bring down the cost of electric cars. He has also announced as a target that half of the vehicles sold in the United States by 2030 be battery electric, fuel-cell electric or plug-in hybrid.

At Tuesday’s event, Biden touted Tritium’s announcement as more than just great news for Tennessee," saying it would “ripple thousands of miles in every direction” as his administration moves forward with plans to facilitate a nationwide network of charging stations.

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Biden said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will soon announce $5 billion in funding to spur the placement of charging stations across the country, including in rural areas.

The president also sought to frame the announcement as part of a larger focus on reviving U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“We’re seeing the beginnings of an American manufacturing comeback. This is not hyperbole. This is real," Biden said, urging bipartisan support for the objective.

In remarks before Biden, Hunter credited last year’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, championed by the president, in explaining the company’s decision to invest in a Tennessee plant.

Nations that are the forefront of this electric future will benefit economically, she said. "And that’s what America will achieve with President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law. ... President Biden’s transport electrification policies have contributed to enormous demand for Tritium’s products right here in the U.S., and that directly led us to pivot and change our global manufacturing strategy.”

Earlier Tuesday, Mitch Landrieu, who is overseeing Biden’s infrastructure plans, said the announcement is also significant because it highlights the administration’s desire to see charging stations manufactured in the United States.

“When we talk about electric vehicles coming, somebody has to make the electric vehicle charging stations, and we want those made here in America,” Landrieu said during an appearance on CNN. “So this particular announcement is really groundbreaking.”

Biden has made multiple attempts to highlight his electric-car agenda. This past fall, for example, he visited a General Motors plant retooled to manufacture electric cars, proclaiming that Detroit has led the world in electric vehicles and that the new infrastructure law would further boost the use of non-gasoline-powered vehicles across the country.

According to an announcement Tuesday by Tennessee officials, Tritium’s facility in Lebanon, Tenn., will double its existing workforce across operations in Australia, Europe, Asia and the United States. The company has more than 450 employees at those locations.

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