In wake of layoffs at EV manufacturer, Pritzker attends opening of EV academy



(The Center Square) – In an industry that is experiencing growing pains, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is forging ahead with his goal to have one million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.

Pritzker and other state officials on Tuesday attended the opening of an EV training academy at Heartland Community College in Normal. Some of the funding for the new center came from a $7.5 million taxpayer-supported capital grant, which is part of Illinois’ $15 million manufacturing training academy investment.

Jason Horwitz, senior economic advisor with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the academy will be key in achieving the state’s clean energy goals.

“The state’s investment in Heartland is part of a larger factory training academy initiative to provide the cutting edge facilities and equipment to prepare Illinoisans for the manufacturing opportunities of today and tomorrow,” said Horwitz.

Rivian Automotive, with a plant in Normal, recently announced they were laying off 10% of their workforce. Rivian also plans to keep production this year flat compared to 2023.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Feb. 21 that based on Rivian’s quarterly cash on hand, the company could go bankrupt in around six quarters.

EV manufacturers, including Tesla and Ford, have been slashing prices to pick up sales, and General Motors is talking about bringing back plug-in hybrids, possibly taking a step back from the company’s earlier commitment to shifting straight to pure EVs.

Despite reports that EVs are stacking up in dealership lots because of sluggish sales, Pritzker said electric vehicles are in high demand.

“There is going to be an ebb and flow like there always is in the auto industry of demand for vehicles, but there’s high demand that continues to be for electric vehicles in general,” Pritzker said.

Industry experts cite a number of reasons for lackluster sales of EVs, including vehicle price, lack of charging infrastructure, and confusing tax credit rules.

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