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EV Manufacturers Are Ready to Meet the Moment in the United States, The American Jobs Plan Is a Crucial Next Step

Suzanne Merkelson
Suzanne Merkelson

Suzanne Merkelson leads state policy for Arrival, a commercial electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. Arrival is reinventing the automotive industry with its entirely new approach to EV design and assembly. Prior to joining Arrival, she served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and worked in public affairs for SolarCity and Tesla.

Suzanne Merkelson
May 3, 2021

Throughout his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden has demonstrated his Administration’s dedication to electrifying transportation. He has committed to transforming the federal fleet and strengthening America’s critical supply chains, proposed investments in consumer incentives, and advocated for a robust nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging network in the American Jobs Plan. It’s clear that President Biden sees the transition to EVs as key to addressing both climate change and the decline of domestic manufacturing and associated jobs.

As one of ZETA’s members, Arrival is well positioned for the challenges and opportunities this transition will bring. Arrival is a maker of commercial EVs with a strategy emphasizing distributed domestic production. As we survey the current federal landscape, we are confident that federal leadership will accelerate EV manufacturing in the United States.

Several of the President’s executive orders have laid the groundwork for a federally-supported domestic EV industry. Specifically, his “Made in America” executive order — which covers federal government procurements and financial assistance awards — helps pave the way for job creation all over America. In late February, he issued an executive order to address and review vulnerabilities in key supply chains, including minerals, semiconductors, and large batteries like those used in EVs. The Administration also announced that the U.S. government would replace its vehicle fleet with domestically manufactured EVs. Combined, these changes will spur domestic manufacturing of EVs across all classes and create thousands – perhaps, millions – of jobs while ensuring access to the materials needed to build this critical industry in the United States.

The American Jobs Plan (AJP) commits to historic investments in EVs, charging infrastructure, and consumer incentives. It calls for $85 billion for public transit and $174 billion in rebates and tax incentives for American-made EVs. It would establish grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and direct the private sector to build a nationwide network of over half a million EV chargers. Further, the AJP aims to replace diesel transit vehicles and school buses with electric alternatives. Lastly, the Plan calls for jumpstarting clean energy manufacturing via federal procurement and increasing domestic manufacturers’ access to capital. In short, this package prioritizes many of the policy proposals ZETA has been advocating for in order to foster an advanced EV sector.

Additionally, President Biden’s budget request, released mid-April, outlines new investments for electrifying the 200,000-plus cars, trucks, and buses that make up the federal fleet. These include $300 million for General Services Administration (GSA) to purchase EVs and charging infrastructure plus another $300 million for other federal agencies to electrify their motor vehicle fleet and reduce harmful emissions. Commitments like these are a good sign for driving fleet electrification moving forward.

Together, Biden’s actions illustrate a bold vision for domestic manufacturing and American clean transportation leadership, one that ZETA shares. ZETA’s policy platform, the Roadmap to 2030, supports this broad approach to spurring this new American industry. The policy platform touches on many aspects of the American Jobs Plan, including consumer incentives, targeted programs for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, a national charging initiative, and a focus on encouraging domestic manufacturing while reducing carbon pollution and improving our public health. ZETA has committed to working closely with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to foster American EV leadership. Most recently, ZETA responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Department of Energy highlighting the need to grow the domestic battery supply chain. Incentivizing a robust EV supply chain is critical for ensuring the U.S. can lead the automotive world in transportation electrification.

Arrival understands first-hand the relationship between stimulating domestic manufacturing and job creation. Arrival’s production strategy lies with the Microfactory, which can be deployed into standard 200,000-square foot warehouses and start production as soon as within six months. This process allows Arrival to locate our manufacturing sites close to our customers and existing supply chains while distributing jobs throughout our growing network of Microfactories. We believe that there are few better ways to spread out the benefits of the EV transition than by producing EVs in every corner of this country. President Biden clearly agrees with this approach. In fact, the President’s supply chain executive order stresses that federal supply chain policy “ensures geographic dispersal of economic activity across all regions of the United States.”

Arrival is proud to have recently announced our first two U.S. Microfactories. The first, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is a $46 million investment that will create 240 new jobs and manufacture the Arrival Bus. The second, in Charlotte, North Carolina, provides a $41.2 million investment that is expected to bring more than 250 jobs to the area and will manufacture the Arrival Van. We can situate Arrival Microfactories closer to our customers, leverage local supply chains, and help lower the cost of EVs to accelerate mass adoption. As Arrival grows to meet the demand of our public- and private-sector customers, so will the number of Microfactories in the United States. Arrival, along with other ZETA members, will lead the way in creating new, well-paying jobs as President Biden charts the course for the clean energy and advanced transportation revolution.

This Administration is right to link our fight against the climate crisis to the need for well-paid jobs and revitalized domestic manufacturing. A more localized domestic supply chain will reduce emissions, and prioritizing U.S. manufacturing programs will generate more jobs right here at home. It’s time we harness the power of U.S. innovation to take us to a fully electric, American-made future.

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About ZETA

National policies to support 100% electric vehicle sales.

The Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) is a federal coalition focused on advocating for 100% EV sales. Enacting policies that drive EV adoption will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, secure American global EV manufacturing dominance, drastically improve public health, and significantly reduce carbon pollution.