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Biden Pushes Electric Vehicle Chargers as Energy Costs Spike

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President Joe Biden pushed the accelerator on a battery-powered Hummer on Wednesday, causing the wheels to squeal and the truck to accelerate as he attempted to lead the country toward an electric vehicle jobs future in his own unique way.

He is emphasizing billions of dollars in his massive bipartisan infrastructure deal to pay for installing electric vehicle chargers across the country, an investment he claims will go a long way toward reducing global warming carbon emissions while creating good-paying jobs. It's also an attempt to outpace China in the market for plug-in electric vehicles. Currently, the United States' market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is one-third that of China's EV market.

The president stated that the United States is not yet the leader in electric vehicles, which he believes his infrastructure jobs package will change with plans to build 500,000 charging stations. The Hummer he drove has a starting price of $108,700, indicating that the electric market appears to be designed so far to serve luxury buyers rather than a mass audience.

“Up until now, China has been leading in this race — that’s about to change,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not halfway around the world." Two top White House advisers, writing in the Detroit Free Press, said the legislation will help America regain its global competitiveness, which has waned, they contend, “after decades of delay and decay.”

"Nobody knows this better than Detroit, which has been at the heart of American industrial strategy in the past and now can again, which is why President Biden is coming today,” wrote Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council and national security adviser Jake Sullivan in an opinion column published Wednesday.

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Republicans, including some who voted for the infrastructure bill, are criticizing Biden for being preoccupied with electric vehicle technology at a time when Americans are dealing with a spike in gasoline and natural gas prices.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell took the Senate floor Tuesday to make the case that “the Biden administration doesn’t have any strategic plan to snap its fingers and turn our massive country into some green utopia overnight."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has stressed that the administration is looking at “every tool in our arsenal” to combat high gasoline prices, saying Biden and his economic team are “quite focused” on the issue. The GM plant Biden visited was set to close in 2018 as the automotive jobs sought to reduce excess factory capacity used to build sedans as buyers shifted to SUVs and trucks. However, the plant, which had been producing cars with internal combustion engines since its inception in 1985, was saved a year later and renamed Factory Zero to produce zero-emissions electric vehicles.

The 4.1 million-square-foot plant, which straddles the border between Detroit and the Hamtramck enclave, is currently producing pre-production versions of the electric GMC Hummer pickup truck. It will begin producing an electric Hummer SUV next year. The plant will begin producing the Origin, an electric vehicle for GM's Cruise autonomous vehicle subsidiary, in 2023, and an unspecified electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup later.

The infrastructure spending will have a negligible direct impact on the plant, but it will benefit from $7.5 billion set aside to help build an electric vehicle charging network. Biden wanted $15 billion to build 500,000 chargers and hasn't said how many could be built for half that price.

$7.5 billion is unlikely to be sufficient. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, the United States will require 2.4 million charging stations by 2030 if electric vehicles account for 36% of new vehicle sales. Currently, there are approximately 45,500 charging stations across the country, with approximately 112,000 plugs. Biden hopes to do even more to promote electric vehicles, including a provision in his proposed $1.85 trillion social services and climate bill that includes a $7,500 tax credit for consumers who buy electric vehicles through 2026.

Only purchases of electric vehicles made in the United States would be eligible for the credit the following year. If the vehicle is manufactured in the United States under a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement, the base credit increases by $4,500. Only GM, Ford Motor Company, and Stellantis NV have qualifying auto plants.

Source: US News

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