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Electric vehicles get help in Biden plan, but roadblocks remain

Joseph Morton, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Automotive News

Getting broad and even potentially bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for a big EV push likely will require labor unions, automakers and environmental groups to come together behind a common vision.

“That’s why I’m bringing the unions and the companies and the environmentalists together,” Dingell said. “So everybody understands what the key issues are, what the perspectives are and how do we get it done.”

Democratic Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said there’s “strong interest” on Capitol Hill in supporting cleaner vehicle use through an infrastructure package.

But another major concern will be the potential impact on jobs.

Dziczek said there’s no question that some jobs are at risk. While battery and motor production will expand with the shift to electric, it’s not clear that expansion will support as many jobs in the same communities where people now live and work making parts for internal combustion engines.

Most firms in the current automotive supply chain have fewer than 100 employees, she said, and are not in the position to make large upfront investments in cutting-edge technology.

“I worry a lot that if you go too fast you lose a lot of firms, you lose a lot of jobs,” Dziczek said.

 

John Bozzella, president and CEO of Auto Innovators, a trade group, said the industry is committed to a net-zero carbon transportation future that includes moving to electric vehicles.

“A bold, comprehensive strategy is required to establish the U.S. as a leader in the next generation of clean transportation innovation,” Bozzella said. “Efforts that incentivize wider-scale EV adoption, build out the necessary infrastructure, and facilitate consumer awareness are essential components to EV market expansion.”

While some environmental groups welcomed Biden’s plan, others said it doesn’t go far enough and they would like to see lower limits on vehicle emissions.

Dozens of conservation and human rights groups signed a letter calling for Biden to back a $16 trillion “moonshot effort” to transition the country away from fossil fuels.

Dan Becker, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport Campaign, suggested that Biden’s plan for electric vehicles is lacking enough sticks to go with the carrots.

“While it’s a start, the Biden plan relies on incentives and hopes that automakers will produce EVs while not actually requiring that they make any,” Becker said. “Given their retrograde environmental behavior, that won’t protect the climate; tough standards will.”

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