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Smaller Detroit Auto Show kicks off ahead of Biden address

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A revived Detroit Auto Show kicked off in earnest Wednesday with presentations by GM and Stellantis brands ahead of an address by President Joe Biden expected to highlight electric vehicle investments.

Chevrolet Vice President Steve Majoros spotlighted the General Motors brand's electric versions of top-selling trucks.

These include the massive Silverado pickup truck -- typically the nation's second most popular vehicle after the Ford F-series -- and the Equinox, unveiled last Thursday with a starting price of $30,000, an affordable level in a pricey space.

Chevy, which unveiled Wednesday a performance edition of its Tahoe gasoline-powered truck, plans this weekend to launch a new media blitz highlighting its electric vehicle offerings at different price points in ways that will lead to "mainstream EV adoption at scale," Majoros told the gathering.

Stellantis brand Jeep released a 30-year commemorative edition of the popular Grand Cherokee SUV, as well as a new fifth-generation model that is the first Jeep plug-in hybrid.

The presentations opened the first Detroit car show since 2019 following pandemic cancelations. The gathering, shifted to fall from its old January time slot, is much smaller than in years past, with most foreign automakers and newer players like Tesla not presenting.

Biden is expected to tout major legislative victories in recent weeks on federal funding for semiconductor investment and climate change mitigation.

A White House fact sheet highlighted a deluge of investment decisions by companies that have amounted to nearly $85 billion in  investment on manufacturing of EVs, batteries, and  chargers in the United States since Biden took office.

"The President's economic plan has generated an American, EV manufacturing boom that is creating new economic opportunity and tens of thousands of good-paying and union jobs across the country," the fact sheet said.

Automakers have been griping about a provision in the just-passed Inflation Reduction Act that sets strict sourcing requirements for federal EV subsidies.

But Biden has a long and generally warm relationship with Detroit giants after presiding as vice president over the bailouts following the 2008 financial crisis.

As president, he has visited both GM and Ford.

Biden "has given a lot of kudos to the Detroit automakers," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights for the automotive research firm Edmunds.

"He's been seen driving a lot of their products at the White House and all sorts of other places."

jmb/st