Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says microchip bill could turn state into auto chip hub

Following the passage of the semiconductor bill by Congress last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan hopes to become a hub for microchip manufacturers that supply the auto industry.

Whitmer, in an interview Monday with Automotive News, said the state’s “high concentration” of engineers and its automotive supply chain should make it an attractive option for chip manufacturers determining where to build factories in the U.S.

“This is an important opportunity for us to show the world that we can lead,” the first-term Democratic governor said. “Michigan has a unique set of strengths.”

Both houses of Congress last week passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes $52 billion for U.S. chip manufacturers and tax credits designed to spur more domestic production of semiconductors. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

Of that funding, $2 billion is designated for production of older, “mature node” semiconductors used by the auto industry. Global auto manufacturing has been rattled by a shortage of those chips, with more than 13 million vehicles removed from automakers’ production schedules since the start of 2021, according to an estimate by AutoForecast Solutions.

“If you’re driving around Michigan and drive past some of these lots with beautiful, brand-new cars that are sitting there waiting for chips, it’s a powerful reminder that we’ve got to bring this advanced manufacturing back to our country,” Whitmer said.

She said Michigan is taking a “whole-of-government approach” to attracting chip manufacturers, including by investing in infrastructure and education.

The state wants “to make sure that an auto chip manufacturer would see that Michigan is a phenomenal place to build out a fab and start producing these chips,” Whitmer said. “We’ve got an environment that is hungry.”

Whitmer said she has spoken with leadership at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. about the chips bill, saying executives were “thrilled” to see it passed.

“EVs require a heck of a lot more chips” than internal combustion engine vehicles, she said. “This is a crucial component of this transition that we’re looking to make.”

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