Biden says he'll attend Detroit Auto Show because he's 'a car guy'

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — President Joe Biden said Friday that he'll be attending the Detroit Auto Show later this month because he is “a car guy.”

Biden was speaking at the White House during an event about $1 billion worth of federal grants awarded to regional partnerships, including $52 million for mobility innovation in the Detroit area

The $52 million in grant funding will be administered by the Detroit Regional Partnership, whose CEO, Maureen Donohue Krauss, took part in Friday's virtual event and invited Biden to the North American International Auto Show, “where we can show you in person how we are leading the way.”

“I’ll be there,” Biden said.

“Awesome,” Krauss replied.

"I’m a car guy, as you kinda noticed," Biden added.

Krauss also extended the invitation to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who also spoke at Friday's virtual event at the White House.

President Joe Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in Washington.

The White House did not immediately confirm that Biden would go or which day.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, said on MSNBC last week she had invited Biden to attend the auto show, and that she hoped he would come. Dingell confirmed Friday that she personally invited the president. 

"He's a car guy, and I'm a car girl," she said. "We talk cars."

Most VIPs would typically attend the show during the media preview, which this year is Sept. 14.

This wouldn't be Biden's first Detroit Auto Show. He toured the show previously, including in 2014 in a show of support for the city during its bankruptcy restructuring while serving as vice president, and again in 2017. President Barack Obama toured the show in 2016.

As president, Biden has visited Michigan five times, all in 2021. He planned to be in the Saginaw area Aug. 2 but canceled after he experienced a reinfection with COVID-19. Biden was last in Michigan in November, when he visited General Motor Co.'s  renovated Factory Zero electric vehicle plant in Detroit. 

The $52 million grant from the Commerce Department will benefit the Global Epicenter of Mobility, a coalition of 136 entities including the Detroit Three automakers, the United Auto Workers, area universities and state, local, and community leaders across 11 counties in Michigan.

The aim of the effort is to accelerate economic growth and focus on the transition to next-generation electric, autonomous and fully connected vehicles.

Projects supported by the grant will include establishing the new Supply Chain Transformation Center and a Mobility Accelerator Innovation Network to identify and foster start-ups in the mobility space. The grant also will support workforce development, job creation and prepping industrial sites for private investment.

The Commerce Department's regional challenge attracted 529 applications from around the country, with the finalists chosen by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.