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Rivian gets a shoutout from President Biden; Secretary Buttigieg plans EV visit to Bloomington-Normal

Biden speaks
Alex Brandon
President Joe Biden speaks about domestic manufacturing and electric vehicle chargers while accompanied by Tritium CEO Jane Hunter in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Washington.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday gave Rivian a shoutout as his administration spends the week talking up federal investments in electric vehicles.

The Rivian name-drop came Tuesday as Biden helped announce the launch of a new EV charger manufacturing facility in Tennessee. The White House has pledged $7.5 billion from the infrastructure law to go toward improving and increasing the national EV charging network.

“Since 2021, companies have announced investments totaling more than $200 billion in domestic manufacturing here in America, from iconic companies like GM and Ford building out new electric vehicle production; to Tesla, our nation’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer; to innovative younger companies like Rivian, building electric trucks, or Proterra, building electric buses, which I saw at a virtual tour last year when I met with the CEO virtually. And they really impressed me,” Biden said.

Biden added: “We’re seeing the beginnings of an American manufacturing comeback. This is not hyperbole. This is real. This is genuine. This is real.”

Rivian is making its electric trucks, SUVs, and vans in Normal, where it has over 4,400 employees. Rivian is already the third largest employer in McLean County. The company, which went public last fall, is also building a second manufacturing plant in Georgia.

Later this week, the Biden administration is expected to announce state allocations and guidance for the infrastructure bill’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, which will provide $5 billion over five years to help states create a network of EV charging stations along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors on the interstate highway system. Biden’s Build Back Better package, which has stalled in Congress, would invest even more in EVs.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is expected to visit Bloomington-Normal on Saturday to highlight, among other things, the new EV Rural Charging Toolkit, which is a “a one-stop resource for rural communities to plan and implement EV charging infrastructure projects.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.