Biden pushes electric car chargers as energy costs rise
Washington President Joe Biden is highlighting billions of dollars in a giant, bipartisan infrastructure deal he struck to pay for the installation of electric car chargers across the country, an investment he says will go a long way to reducing greenhouse carbon emissions while creating good-wage jobs.
On Wednesday, Biden will visit a General Motors plant in Detroit that makes electric cars. He will use the opportunity to demonstrate that the $7.5 billion in new electric vehicle chargers infrastructure law will help America move away from the sidelines when it comes to green energy manufacturing. Currently, the US market share of additional electric vehicle sales is one-third the size of the Chinese electric vehicle market.
“It’s a big deal,” Biden declared when he signed the bill into law at a White House ceremony earlier this week.
Republicans – even some of those who voted for the infrastructure package – are criticizing Biden for his preoccupation with electric car technology at a time when Americans are facing soaring gasoline and natural gas prices.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to prove that “the Biden administration has no strategic plan to part its fingers and turn our massive country into a green utopia overnight.”
“They just want to throw big loads of government money on things like solar panels and electric vehicles, and they hope it works,” said McConnell, one of the 19 senators who voted for the infrastructure bill. Staring at the barrel of very high heating bills, the Democrats’ response was to wage war against American affordable energy.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed that the administration is looking into “every tool in our arsenal” to combat high gasoline prices, saying that Biden and his economic team are “fully focused” on the issue.
Psaki said the administration has asked the Federal Trade Commission to “take tough action against illegal pricing” and is engaging with countries and entities abroad such as OPEC about oversupply.
The GM plant that Biden would visit was scheduled to close in 2018 as the automaker tried to weed out excess plant capacity to build sedans as buyers turned toward SUVs and trucks. But the plant, which has made cars with internal combustion engines since it opened in 1985, was bailed out a year later and designated “Factory Zero” to build zero-emissions electric cars.
Currently, the 4.1 million-square-foot plant, which straddles the border between Detroit and the Hamtramck Jeep, makes pre-production versions of the GMC Hummer electric pickup truck.
Next year it will start making a Hummer electric SUV. The factory will begin launching the Origin, an electric vehicle belonging to the independent automotive division of GM Cruise, in 2023, and an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup on an unspecified date.
The station won’t see a significant direct impact from infrastructure spending, but it will benefit from $7.5 billion earmarked to help build an electric vehicle charging network.
Biden wanted $15 billion to build 500,000 chargers, and he didn’t provide a figure for how many devices could be built with half that amount.
It’s possible that $7.5 billion won’t be enough. The International Council on Clean Transportation says the US will need 2.4 million charging stations by 2030 if 36% of new car sales are electric. There are currently about 45,500 charging stations nationwide with about 112,000 sockets.
Biden hopes to do more to promote electric cars, including providing a $7,500 tax credit to consumers who buy electric cars through 2026 that was introduced as part of a proposed $1.85 trillion social and climate services bill.
The following year, only electric vehicle purchases made in the United States will be eligible for the credit. The base credit would go up by $4,500 if the car was manufactured in a US factory operating under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by unions. Only auto plants owned by GM and Ford Motor Co. The Stellantis NV is eligible.
The tax credit in favor of American cars could be a flash point when Biden hosts Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House on Thursday for the first summit of North American leaders since 2016.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie said she raised concerns with Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken when the two met in Washington last week that the proposed tax credit would have a negative impact on the integrated auto industry in North America and put thousands of jobs in Canada at risk.
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