To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the death of American manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated, and 2022 proved why.
We hate to say we told you so. But we told you so.
But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the United States found itself without many basic supplies. That was followed by the global supply chain crisis, which made it hard to get the things we need. And amidst all this, policymakers from both sides of the aisle began to realize the folly of depending on a top geopolitical rival for critical things we need for our national and economic security.
Crucially, that led to the enactment of actual industrial policy, like the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivized domestic manufacturing. And in 2022, it began to work.
From electric vehicles to batteries to solar panels to semiconductors, corporations big and small invested billions upon billions of dollars this year into planned factories and manufacturing facilities, putting the pieces in place for a truly Made in America future.
And while manufacturing jobs aren’t likely to reach their peaks of the 1950s, the industry is hiring again — 750,000 new factory jobs have been created since President Biden took office in January 2021.
It’s the type of manufacturing revival that we long were told was impossible, but always knew could happen if America got the policy right. It’s also hopefully the start of something much bigger, in which the United States finally gets back to actually making and building the things we need to thrive. If policymakers stay the course, they will lay the groundwork for a stronger, fairer and more productive United States.
Below, we highlight just a few of the critical industries that saw major factory announcements this year.
Electric Vehicles (EVs), Batteries and Charging Stations
Throughout the past year, numerous companies have announced their investments within the EV industry, enhancing domestic manufacturing. Companies such as Ford, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, TeraWatt, Stellantis, Samsung, Panasonic, Toyota, and Piedmont Lithium have all pitched in to contribute to the up-and-coming EV boom. These investments were made in key states like Alabama, California, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee, resulting in tens of billions of dollars in investments.
As President Biden said:
“It used to be — used to be that to buy an electric car, you had to make all sorts of compromises, but not now. Thanks to American ingenuity, American engineers, American autoworkers, that’s all changing. Today, if you want an electric vehicle with a long range, you can buy one made in America.”
The United States remains behind globally when it comes to EV production. But the policy put in place has allowed for investments that are helping American industry play catch up, and the groundwork is here to dethrone China from the top spot. Here are just a handful of 2022 announcements:
- Detroit’s Big Three automakers made big moves in 2022. In Michigan, Ford began producing its long-awaited F-150 Lightning, while General Motors said it would invest billions in its U.S. facilities to eventually fully transition to EV production. Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, announced an $83 million investment in the Dundee Engine Complex in Michigan to produce hybrid electric vehicle engines.
- Meanwhile in Indiana, Stellantis and Samsung said they are joining forces on a joint venture with a $3.1 billion investment in an EV battery plant in Kokomo. The CEO of Stellantis noted the facility “further solidifies our global battery production footprint and demonstrates Stellantis’ drive toward a decarbonized future.” This investment is set to bring over 1,400 jobs to Kokomo and neighboring towns, and create brand new battery modules for EV vehicles.
- In Alabama, Mercedes Benz plans to invest in their Bibb County manufacturing plant. “We always protect the investment into future technology and future products… That is the seed which we will harvest. Not even in COVID year of 2020 did we cut back on R&D for crucial projects,” Ola Kaellenius said. Over 600 jobs will result from this investment, as they plan for their company to go fully electric by 2030.
- TeraWatt, a company based in San Francisco, raised over $1 Billion for EV infrastructure and is set on developing charging stations in California, Nevada, and Florida, with hopes to expand nationwide. David Schlosberg, vice president of TeraWatt’s energy and utilities, said that “while the EV incentives do not scale up with heavy-duty vehicles, the charging station credits are well positioned to support heavy-duty charging, including for the highest power charging available today and potentially higher capacity chargers in the near future.”
- Panasonic announced that they will be investing in $3.1 Billion in De Soto, Kansas to supply Tesla with more batteries. The sole purpose of this factory will be to produce Tesla’s 2170 cylindrical lithium-ion batteries while simultaneously working on newer batteries like the 4680 cells. This plant is forecasted to produce 4,000 jobs.
- In North Carolina, Toyota announced a $2.5 billion investment in its battery manufacturing plant in Greensboro. This plant will produce batteries for hybrid electric vehicles while creating approximately 350 new jobs. “This is an exciting time for Toyota, the region, and the many North Carolinians we will soon employ… This incremental investment reflects our continued commitment to ensuring jobs and future economic growth for the Triad region,” said TBMNC president Sean Suggs.
- Piedmont Lithium announced a $582 million investment to enhance lithium hydroxide processing, refining, and manufacturing in Tennessee. This investment will create 117 jobs. President and Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont said. “Our Tennessee Lithium operation should play an important role in helping to mitigate supply shortages in the American EV industry and battery supply chain, particularly in the wake of recent legislation incentivizing the use of domestically sourced critical materials and providing tax credits for U.S. producers.”
As we noted in our No. 2 manufacturing story of the year blog post, one of the most vital pieces of legislation passed in 2022 was the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated $52 billion in direct funding for production of advanced computer chips called semiconductors and an additional $170 billion more for research and development.
If you fund it, factories will come. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the legislation already has yielded $200 billion in privately-funded investments for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. More than 40 specific projects have been unveiled, expected to create around 40,000 new jobs. And they’re good jobs, too. A planned Intel facility in Ohio expects to pay its workers an average annual salary of $135,000.
Here are just a few of the major semiconductor plants announced in 2022:
- Both Intel and TSMC are investing heavily in Arizona, which will yield roughly 7,500 direct new factory jobs. President Biden visited the TSMC site earlier this month, noting that the “investments are helping us build and strengthen the supply chain here in America.”
- Micron is investing $15 billion to build a new fab in Idaho, touted as the first new memory fab built in the United States in 20 years. Micron expects the facility will create 2,000 new direct jobs and support 17,000 more in the community. Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act “made this investment decision possible.”
- Texas Instruments is investing heavily in its operations in Texas, with several expansions getting underway in 2022. The iconic company also began operations at another facility in Utah.
We outlined the saga of America’s solar industry in our No. 3 post, but it was such a rollercoaster ride that it’s worth repeating here. While the Biden administration made the puzzling move to delay tariffs on solar imports for two years, there’s no doubt that the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act provided a much-needed boost to this critical industry.
As with electric vehicles and semiconductors, the enactment of industrial policy led to factory announcements. Here are a few:
- In November, First Solar unveiled Alabama as the home of a new $1 billion solar production facility, which is expected to come online by 2025. The company’s CEO noted that “the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future.”
- Enel North America is planning to build “one of the biggest solar panel and cell factories in the US,” although it has yet to finalize a site. As with First Solar, the company’s CEO cited the Inflation Reduction Act as the impetus for the decision, noting “policy tailwinds from the Inflation Reduction Act have served as a catalyst for our solar manufacturing ambitions in the US, ushering in a new era of made-in-America energy.”
- Cubic PV also announced it will build a U.S. facility, one that is slated to create around 1,500 jobs. According to the company’s CEO, the Inflation Reduction Act “represents a titanic shift in the global solar landscape, and the U.S. is poised to become the world’s most competitive location to manufacture solar.”
Despite all the excitement, and even though it’s about to be the New Year, we aren’t popping the champagne quite yet. Lots of promises were made about factory announcements in 2022, all good signs of things that could come. But this is a marathon.
Policymakers need to see this through. Both the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act must be the start of a larger industrial policy, one that prioritizes the growth of American industry and allows U.S. workers and manufacturers to compete in an increasingly competitive global landscape.
Meanwhile, the United States must enforce its trade laws. China and other countries have proven time and time again that they are willing to break trade rules and play unfair. We must ensure our industry is given a level playing field.
But despite the challenges, the future of manufacturing looks bright. If we get this right, 2022 will be long remembered as the start of a new American manufacturing renaissance.