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President Joe Biden wants American’s auto industry to go electric

The Biden administration also announced new proposed regulatory standards that it says will address climate change and keep automotive jobs in America

President Joe Biden drives a Ford F-150 Lightning truck.
President Joe Biden stops to talk to the media as he drives a Ford F-150 Lightning truck at Ford Dearborn Development Center on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Dearborn, Mich. Biden says he wants half of all new vehicles cruising America’s highways and Main Streets to be electric by 2030.
Evan Vucci, Associated Press

President Joe Biden wants half of all new vehicles cruising America’s highways and Main Streets to be electric by 2030. And he wants them to be American, union made automobiles.

On a White House lawn decorated by a Ford F-150 pickup, a Jeep Wrangler and other American-made vehicles, Biden signed an executive order that set a goal that 50% of all passenger vehicles sold in America by 2030 would be electric automobiles.

“As I’ve said before, we’re in competition with China and many other nations for the 21st century. To win, we’re going to have to make sure the future is made in America,” Biden said in a speech ahead of signing the executive order.

  • The president said the future of the automotive industry is electric. “Battery electric, plug-in, hybrid electric, fuel cell electric. It’s electric and there’s no turning back.”
  • To help reach the electric vehicle goal, Biden said the passage of his “Build Back Better” agenda was needed, as it would provide economic support to the industry and improve America’s transportation infrastructure.

After the signing, Biden removed his suit coat and drove an electric Jeep Wrangler Rubicon around the White House lawn, CSPAN reported.

UAW and American automakers support Biden’s goal

Bernie Ricke, president of Auto Workers Local 600 in Dearborn, Michigan, introduced Biden ahead of the president’s speech and said that “the UAW is ready to build these electric cars trucks and the batteries that go in them.”

  • “We know that President Biden has our back. And we know he understands that we can grow out industry, and preserve and create more good paying union jobs through his Build Back Better plan,” the local union president added.
  • Ricke called autoworkers the ”true engine making this technology work, grow and power America’s middle class.”

Along with the autoworkers union, the Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Stellantis (a group of auto brands that includes Dodge and Jeep) joined in Biden’s goal to bring down transportation emission.

  • “Today, Ford, GM and Stellantis announce their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030 in order to move the nation closer to a zero-emissions future consistent with Paris climate goals,” the automakers said in a joint statement published by the White House.
  • “It has been said that this generation is the first to feel the impact of climate change, and the last that can do something about it,” Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman, said in statement posted to Twitter Thursday morning.

Where was Tesla?

Not at Biden’s White House automotive event was Tesla Inc, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Seems off Tesla wasn’t invited,” Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in a tweet.

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla has “sold the vast majority of all-electric vehicles in the U.S. over the past few years” and the Biden administration wouldn’t comment on why Tesla wasn’t included in the event.
  • “One possible explanation, analysts say, is that Tesla is a nonunion shop. The Detroit auto makers attending the White House event have production workforces represented by the UAW,” The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Biden administration unveils new emission standards

Along with the president’s goal of increasing the production and sale of emissions-free vehicles in the next decade, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency each announced updated regulatory proposals that they say will address climate change.

The Biden administration said Thursday said the new standards would address “harmful rollbacks of near-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards.”

  • Nation Public Radio reported that former President Barack Obama’s White House had set fuel economy standards at 5% improvements annually and that the the former President Donald Trump administration later lowered that target to 1.5%.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said DOT’s new proposed regulations “would save drivers hundreds of billions of dollars on gas, reduce pollution and help counter the climate crisis” and ensure automotive industry jobs stay in America.

  • “The new standards would increase fuel-efficiency 8% annually for model years 2024-2026, and increase estimated fleet-wide average by 12 miles per gallon for model year 2026 relative to model year 2021,” the Transportation Department said in the statement.

In their own proposed changes to current regulations, the EPA said it would revise standards created by the Trump administration. The agency said its proposal “would cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise fuel economy by 10% over the Trump rules in car model year 2023, followed by 5% increases in reductions in each model year through 2026,” The Associated Press reported.

  • EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the statement that “these robust standards are underpinned by sound science and technical expertise, encouraging the development of technology and innovation that will drive America forward into a clean energy future.”

The AP reported that both proposal still need to work their way government’s regulatory process.