By wire and NADA staff reports
DEARBORN, Mich./WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden made the case for his $174 billion electric vehicle plan on Tuesday, calling for government grants for new battery production facilities during a visit to a Ford Motor electric-vehicle plant in Michigan.
“We’re going to set a new pace for electric vehicles,” Biden said. The President spoke to Ford workers and executives in front of a display and map touting the company’s “EV-certified dealer network” consisting of 2,300+ EV-certified dealers nationwide, trained EV sales teams, EV-qualified technicians and certified collision locations.
Biden argues the United States is falling behind China, which is selling more EVs.
“The real question is whether we’ll lead or we’ll fall behind in the race for the future, or whether we will build these vehicles and the batteries that go in them here in the United States or rely on other countries,” Biden said.
He has ruled out consumer incentives for high-priced electric luxury models, according to a White House factsheet, as he argues for dramatic government spending to prod Americans to buy electric vehicles at a preview of Ford’s new EV version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck.
Biden’s electric-vehicle plan, first announced March 31, cheered investors who bought shares in several electric-vehicle startups that have struggled of late. Shares in electric truck maker Lordstown Motors rose 22% and shares in Nikola Motors climbed 5.8% in midday trading.
Biden is pushing for electric vehicles in the auto industry’s heartland, and trying to win over auto workers worried that more electric cars and trucks will mean fewer jobs.
The White House wants to encourage new battery production facilities, which are key to ramping up U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing.
Biden’s plan “proposes cost-sharing grants to support new high capacity battery facilities in the United States,” the fact sheet said, and backs grants to fund the retooling of shuttered factories “to build advanced vehicles and parts.”
United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble, who has criticized Ford and General Motors’ plans to build some EVs in Mexico, urged Biden to make sure investment encourages strong labor standards, good union jobs and U.S. built vehicles.
The centerpiece of Biden’s EV plan is $100 billion in consumer rebates, according to an April U.S. Transportation Department email to lawmakers.
The White House fact sheet says Biden’s plan provides “point-of-sale incentives that encourage EV deployment. These incentives will not go towards expensive luxury models.”
The existing $7,500 EV tax credit applies to vehicles regardless of price but phases out after a manufacturer sells 200,000 EVs. Credits for both Tesla and General Motors expired after they hit the cap.
The White House has declined to say how Biden wants EV tax credits restructured or if he wants to hike credits.
Biden faces resistance from many congressional Republicans on his EV focus. Republicans are set to release a counterproposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan as early as Tuesday and Republicans will meet with Biden’s commerce and transportation chiefs later on Capitol Hill.
Biden backs new tax credits for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which the White House notes “are major contributors to poor air quality” and the administration pegs as costing $10 billion.
Biden wants $15 billion to build 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030 – including in apartment buildings and public parking – and $45 billion to electrify a significant number of school and transit buses. He also wants to fund shifting the federal fleet to more EVs, including for the Postal Service to begin using EV delivery trucks.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Nandita Bose; editing by Richard Pullin, Nick Zieminski, Alexandra Hudson)