by Thomas Bowman, cross posted from LinkedIn
Glenn Youngkin blocking a Ford Motor Company #EV Battery Plant is a case study in why ambitious leaders shouldn’t put politics before people. The decision is not simply a missed opportunity for the Commonwealth. His politically motivated action caused long-term damage to Virginia’s reputation. It could be a long time before another company seriously considers locating their project here.
See Ford’s July 2022 press release for more information about what the plant would have provided.
One of Youngkin’s main arguments was his concern about the Chinese Communist Party’s influence. However, the company that would have operated the plant, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL), is the world’s largest producer of electric vehicle batteries. It is not CCP-controlled. Furthermore, the technology used in building the battery cells would have been retained by the private sector, which is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both CATL and Ford.
Moreover, Gov. Youngkin’s decision also ignores that China is already a significant player in the global battery market. Banning a Chinese company from operating in Virginia doesn’t change that reality. The U.S. is already playing catch-up in the race to develop and manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. The decision to halt the Ford plant further impedes American competitiveness in this field.
The Ford plant would have brought high-tech jobs and investment to Southside Virginia. The state’s economy would have benefited greatly from the plant’s construction and the subsequent employment opportunities it would have created. The plant would have also been a significant step towards the state’s goal of transitioning to a green economy.
Youngkin’s decision is not aligned with the current trend of many American companies bringing manufacturing back to the US. By blocking this plant, Virginia also missed an opportunity to be a leader in green energy and job creation.
In conclusion, Governor Youngkin’s decision to halt the Ford battery plant in Virginia caused long-term harm. It ignores the economic benefits, the job opportunities, and the role it could have played in the transition to a green economy. Instead of creating fear and mistrust of foreign nations, we should embrace economic opportunities and international cooperation. As thought leaders in this field, we must continue to push for policies that promote job creation and investment in our renewable future.