The Buy America Rules in the Infrastructure Bill Bring an Electric Vehicle Factory to Tennessee

By Matthew McMullan
President Biden speaks at he White House with a Tritium electric vehicle charger on display. White House YouTube

A win for domestic procurement policy is announced at the White House.

President Biden on Tuesday hosted the CEO of an Australian company that makes electric vehicle (EV) chargers to praise the company’s plans to build its first factory in Tennessee. The company expects this facility will be able to produce approximately 30,000 of these things annually, and will support 500 new jobs in Lebanon, a town about 30 miles east of Nashville.

That’s great news for the company, Tritium, which says the new site will at least double its production capacity; it’s great news for me, because I like EV infrastructure and I want to see more of it; and it’s great news for the Biden administration, which has been methodically working to build out American manufacturing capacity and significantly increase the share of EVs in the U.S. market before the end of the decade. Tuesday’s announcement makes for progress toward both of those goals.

What’s more, Tritium’s CEO, Jane Hunter, who spoke at the White House with Biden, directly credited the EV-specific language and Buy America requirements in the recently passed federal infrastructure package for getting the Aussie company to yes on an American factory:

“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.”

“It’s made a huge change to our revenue here in North America. we used to make 70 percent of our revenue from Europe, now its 43 percent from North America, 43 percent from Europe,” she later told Bloomberg News.

“(The chargers) will be designed in Australia but manufactured in America, Buy America-compliant, making use of American steel. They’ll actually be American-made chargers.”

Hey, so domestic procurement rules work to pull in investment in manufacturing! How about that.

And so the beat goes on. Next on the administration’s schedule to push the country toward its EV goals are Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig, who later this week will announce the state funding allocations and guidelines for the money in the infrastructure package’s EV build-out programs. There’s $5 billion to spread around to help get this done.