Former USDOT Secretary Lands New Gig to Cash In On Push to Electrify Big Rigs

Austin, TX – Former Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Elaine Chao has joined the Board of Directors for Hyliion, an electrified powertrain solutions company for Class 8 semi-trucks.

In a release, the Austin, TX-based company announced the former Secretary “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from both a transportation and competitiveness viewpoint” to the company.


According to its website, Hyliion “produces electrified powertrain systems that can augment or fully replace traditional diesel- or natural gas-fueled powertrains.”

The company designs, develops, and sells electrified powertrain solutions that are designed to be installed on most major Class 8 commercial trucks, with the goal of transforming the commercial transportation industry’s environmental impact at scale.

“[Chao] has had an incredibly distinguished career promoting innovation and American excellence, and we are fortunate to have her join our board,” Thomas Healy, Founder and CEO of Hyliion, stated.

Chao, who is also the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), served as Transportation Secretary under President Donald Trump until she abruptly announced her resignation on January 7, 2021.


This is not Chao’s first Board of Directors appointment since leaving her post at the USDOT, however.

In early August 2021, The Kroger Co. — a nationwide grocery retail group operating under such names as Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, Fry’s, and Fred Meyers, just to name a few — announced Chao had been elected to its Board of Directors.

Chao notably came under intense scrutiny during her time as the head of the USDOT for her family’s business ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

During Chao’s tenure with the USDOT, the Department pushed through hours of service (HOS) reform last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


However, many truckers expressed frustration with Chao’s leadership especially as she was largely silent on the increasing attacks on professional truckers during the riots in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Similarly, Chao never commented on the historic three-week protest in Washington D.C. while more than one hundred truckers sought relief from plummeting freight rates.

During that same time, President Trump signed an Executive Order giving broad authority to each Department head to slash regulations that could impede economic recovery from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Mr. Trump famously directed specific comments to then-Secretary Chao.

“Elaine, you can do things that nobody would believe in your Department, the Department of Transportation,” Mr. Trump said.


However, Chao did not act on the president’s urging.

Then, in March 2021, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it was declining to open a criminal investigation into Chao despite the findings of a report detailing how she used her position and USDOT staff members for her personal benefit.

Read more about that HERE.

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