Energy & Environment

Biden frames electric vehicle goals as competition with China in Michigan visit

President Biden
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President Biden on Tuesday used a trip to a Ford plant to make the case for his proposed $174 billion investment in electric vehicles, saying his plan is necessary in order to “win the competition of the 21st century” and outpace China.

“The future of the auto industry is electric. There is no going back,” Biden said in remarks from Ford’s electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, Mich. “Right now China is leading in this race. Make no bones about it. This is a fact.”

“Folks, the rest of the world is moving fast. They’re moving ahead. They’re not waiting for the United States of America,” Biden said. “We have a playbook that’ll work. We’re going to set a new pace for electric vehicles.”

Biden has proposed the investments over a decade as part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, which would fund repairs of traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges, expand broadband, and invest in new technologies and research and development to address climate change. 

The plan calls for a $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market, and specifically pitches incentive programs with the goal of building out 500,000 electric vehicle charges by 2030, replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrifying at least 20 percent of the yellow school bus fleet. 

He toured the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where the company is manufacturing its new electric F-150 pickup truck. The truck is slated to be formally unveiled Wednesday. 

Ford has recently said it planned to increase its investment in electric vehicles. Other automakers have also pledged to increase investments in this area, with GM saying it aims to be all electric by 2035. 

Republican opponents of the president’s climate goals have frequently argued that moves like rejoining the Paris climate agreement put the U.S. at a disadvantage compared to China. 

While he didn’t address this specifically, Biden did stress American competitiveness in the speech. 

“I also wanted to put the world on notice. America is back,” he said. “The competition for the 21st century, the future will be built right here in America.” 

Biden also insisted that his plan would create good-paying middle class jobs and help turbocharge the U.S. economy, which has suffered significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic and related business closures. He called it the “blue collar blueprint to rebuild America.” 

Biden frequently portrayed himself as a champion of union workers, joking at the start of his speech that he was elected to the Senate “180 years ago” because of the United Auto Workers, the major union headquartered in Detroit. 

Biden is currently in negotiations with Republicans on a potential bipartisan compromise on infrastructure. Administration officials are meeting with officials on Capitol Hill as part of the ongoing discussions on Tuesday. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), who along with several other Republican senators recently met with Biden in the Oval Office, is due to offer a revised counterproposal to the White House this week. 

“We believe we can find a bipartisan deal on infrastructure,” Biden told the attendees in Dearborn. “We’ll compromise, but doing nothing is not an option.” 

The White House has said that Biden hopes to see “progress” on a bill by Memorial Day, and then passage sometime this summer. However, officials have declined to define exactly what progress looks like. Republicans have criticized Biden’s proposal as too expensive and opposed his plans to pay for it through a corporate tax hike. Members from both parties have expressed skepticism about the chances of bipartisan agreement. 

Biden could ultimately choose to go ahead without Republicans and try to pass a bill using budget reconciliation, but that would require him getting every Senate Democrat and most House Democrats on board to vote in favor of a bill. 

Tags China Electric vehicles Joe Biden Michigan Shelley Moore Capito
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