Joe Biden on electric vehicles: 'We're not investing'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday night touted his plans to energize electric vehicle manufacturing during a town hall event televised on ABC.

While talking about environmental policy, the former vice president said electric vehicle efforts will save "billions of gallons of oil" and help create 1 million auto industry jobs.

"We’re not investing," Biden said. "We’re not doing any of the research.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Thursday.

It wasn't clear if Biden was talking about automakers or the federal government.

Biden made the comments as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have committed to spending tens of billions of dollars on electric and autonomous vehicles in the next few years.

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GM plans to spend $20 billion on electric and autonomous vehicle technology through 2025. The spending spree includes producing 20 electric vehicles by 2023, among them the GMC Hummer EV to be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant late next year.

Ford Motor Co. has committed to investing $11 billion in electric vehicle development by 2022.

In August, the United States had 904,700 motor vehicle and parts manufacturing jobs, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

The former vice president participated in an ABC town hall on Thursday that was  moderated by George Stephanopoulos, a former President Bill Clinton adviser, as President Donald Trump took part in a separate town hall on NBC.

Both events occurred the same night the second presidential debate was originally scheduled. But that debate was called off after Trump declined to participate in a virtual debate.

Biden is scheduled to be in Detroit and Southfield for campaign stops on health care and early voting on Friday afternoon.

During an appearance in Toledo on Monday, he touted his plans to create a network of 500,000 charging stations and offer rebates for those looking to swap out older vehicles for newer, more fuel-efficient ones — his version of the "cash for clunkers" program from President Barack Obama's administration.

"We’re going to make it easier for American consumers to move to the vehicles of the future," Biden said at one point.

Auto manufacturing has been a focus of the Biden and Trump campaigns as they compete in Michigan, a state the Republican president won by 10,704 votes in 2016, his smallest margin of victory nationally.

Staff Writers Kalea Hall and Jordyn Grzelewski