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In July 2020, then presidential candidate Joe Biden shared his goal for a climate change plan. It was clear that if elected he would have a big impact on the automotive industry. His plan not only involves EVs but also includes a desire to make the United States the world leader in clean vehicle production.
Now that he is officially president, Biden’s plan becomes a huge win for US automakers and the EV investments they are currently making. Here’s a quick list of what to look for.
Offering cash for clunkers. Biden intends to offer incentives to American car buyers who are thinking about swapping their aging, gas-guzzling cars for zero-emission vehicles (made in the US). His plan includes restoring the federal government’s electric-vehicle tax credit and pursuing direct-consumer rebates.
Changing the face of government fleets. The new US president also wants to set an example. He announced in his plan that he will replace the enormous fleet of 221,000 government vehicles with EVs made and sourced in the US by 2035. His proposal also includes converting all 500,000 US school buses to battery power by the end of this decade.
Biden’s plan includes aggressive federal R&D investments where the automotive sector will be a beneficiary.
Retooling factories. Biden intends to provide grants to the manufacturing industry to retool factories so that automakers and suppliers can expand capacity while building a cleaner economy. This appears to already have vigorous support in the Midwest rust belt.
Creating stricter emission guidelines. Biden plans on working with states on stricter emissions guidelines to make traditional vehicles cleaner. This means a single national plan to work toward, rather than a patchwork of regulations that has been difficult for the industry to navigate.
Cancelling Canada’s pipeline. As part of this green agenda, Biden terminated Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline extension project on the first full day of his presidency. This controversial pipeline project was designed to increase movement of oil from Canada’s Northern tar sands to mid-western and gulf refineries. The pipeline project was launched during Bush’s presidency, cancelled during Obama’s, revived during Trump’s, and cancelled again under Biden’s due to its devastating environmental consequences.
Investing in R&D. Biden’s plan includes aggressive federal R&D investments where the automotive sector will be a beneficiary. On his website, the president calls for a $300 billion investment spanning everything from electric vehicle technology to artificial intelligence.
An increase in charging points could alleviate some of the range anxiety that continues to plague EV adoption.
Jobs, jobs, jobs. As part of his plan to support clean energy and tackle climate change, Biden has pledged to create one million auto-sector jobs. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union endorsed Biden’s presidential candidacy based on this, although some workers remain concerned that a switch to electric vehicles will destroy their jobs.
Creating new infrastructure. To complement his policy that champions EVs, Biden plans to invest in half a million new EV charging stations across the country. The new infrastructure would span the US and allow any American to travel coast-to-coast in an EV by 2030.
US as EV leader
Concerns that electric vehicles will one day push gas-powered ones to the curb is not unfounded – some experts believe the rapid demise of ICE vehicles may be similar to the decimation of the horse and buggy industry a century ago, which was quick. Even though I’ll grieve the loss of my manual transmission, I look forward to having greater choice in EVs, the ability to drive them further, and a cleaner environment.
Cover image: Detroit Free Press