President Biden announces EV charger plant coming to Tennessee

President Joe Biden and Tritium DCFC Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Jane Hunter are announcing Tuesday that the Australian electric vehicle charging company is planning to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Tennessee.

The facility in Lebanon, east of Nashville, is expected to produce as many as 30,000 electric vehicle chargers annually and create 500 jobs, the White House said.

Hunter said her company decided to invest more heavily in its American operations after seeing demand surge following the passage of the Biden administration’s infrastructure law last year. That eventually accelerated plans to open a North American plant as well as expectations for how many chargers could be produced annually.

The company listed on the Nasdaq exchange in January and plans to move some senior executive positions to the U.S..

“That was a really big step change for the company and we see that North American market getting even bigger again next year, potentially even taking over what’s traditionally been for us, in Europe, our major revenue source,” Hunter said in an interview.

Tritium evaluated several potential factory sites, including Texas, before ultimately deciding on Tennessee because of a combination of tax incentives, logistics advantages, and labor availability in that state, the company said. Many workers at the factory would only need a few weeks’ training to begin building the chargers, Hunter added.

“It’s an announcement about manufacturing and what the Biden administration’s legislation has done to draw companies into the country, grow jobs onshore, grow manufacturing onshore, and I think it’s just a lovely example of that,” she said.

The White House has said its goal is to build a national network of at least half a million electric vehicle charging stations by the end of the decade. The infrastructure law includes $65 billion for upgrades to the nation’s electrical grid, $7 billion earmarked to bolster the supply chain for electric vehicles, and $7.5 billion specifically earmarked for charging stations.

The first $5 billion tranche of charging station funding is expected to be distributed over the next five days, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm set to announce later this week how much each state will receive under the program. The federal government plans to designate corridors along the interstate highway system where drivers could be assured they would have access to charging stations.

If completed, the build-out would represent a significant increase in available chargers, which automobile companies hope ease anxiety expressed by consumers reluctant to give up the convenience gas-powered vehicles offer. The Department of Energy estimates there are now about 122,000 electric vehicle chargers at around 48,000 locations nationwide.

The Tritium factory is the latest in a string of manufacturing facilities Biden has highlighted in recent weeks as he’s sought to revive his political standing. Late last month, he appeared alongside Intel Corp. CEO Pat Gelsinger to celebrate the chipmaker’s decision to establish a $20 billion semiconductor factory in Ohio.

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