DETROIT — President Biden, a self-described “automan” and Corvette owner, toured the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday and announced the approval of an initial $900 million investment to begin building electric vehicle charging stations across the federal highway system.
The President’s announcement marks the beginning of a multi-year initiative funded by Infrastructure Law It signed last year, which committed $7.5 billion to build a network of charging stations that would make long-distance travel more feasible for owners of battery-powered cars.
Ultimately, the White House believes that this will be enough to build about 500,000 stations across swathes of the federal highway system and in the most isolated rural areas, although senior officials have acknowledged the need for more stations to make electric vehicles practical for many. friends.
“The great American road trip will be completely electrified, whether you’re driving from coast to coast along I-10 or on I-75 here in Michigan,” Biden said. “Charging stations will be ready and as easy to find as gas stations now.”
Unless American motorists replace the gasoline-powered cars that have driven them over the past century with new, zero-emissions vehicles, experts say it will be impossible for the United States to meet Biden’s goal of halving greenhouse emissions. 2030. That’s how much scientists say major economies must cut their emissions in the next decade in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming, and vehicles are the United States’ biggest source of pollution from global warming.
But achieving that goal will also require a transformation of the country’s auto industry — especially since most of the materials needed to make electric car batteries are mined and processed in other countries.
Mr. Biden I pledged that 50 percent of new cars Electric cars will be sold by 2030 in the United States, up from just 6 percent today, and he has prompted a series of new policies designed to force the country’s automakers and motorists to meet that goal.
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In August, he signed the Broad new climate, tax and healthcare law It includes discounts of up to $7,500 for people who buy new electric cars within the next decade. In the same month, he also signed Chips and the law of sciencewhich aims to support semiconductor manufacturers who produce some of the key parts used in both electric vehicles and standard combustion vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are drafting a new regulation expected to be revealed early next year that would likely require automakers to rapidly increase sales of electric vehicles. California, the nation’s largest auto market, last month provided a preview of what such federal regulations might look like, when enacted A new rule to ban the sale of new petrol cars after 2035.
Together, Mr. Biden hopes his electric vehicle policies will support American manufacturing while reducing greenhouse emissions. But experts say it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Even new registrations for electric cars rose Over the past year, they’ve remained a small portion of vehicles used in the United States. Even with a $7,500 tax credit for battery-powered cars remain expensive For many consumers, the lack of chips and other key components has led to waiting lists of more than a year and fewer electric vehicles available on sale.
Because the new climate law includes strict requirements that limit new electric car tax credits only to automakers Assembling their cars in North America And source their batteries from friendly countries, and starting next year, only cars made by three companies — Ford, General Motors and Tesla — are expected to be eligible for the credits.
American auto workers are also concerned that the shift could cost them jobs, as only a third of the workers are needed to assemble an electric vehicle as a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle.
in the last year , stronghold And the General motors Both announced billions of dollars in investments in battery plants and electric car factories across the United States. General motors He said It plans to phase out its combustion vehicles by 2035.
last year, Rivian CarsThe newest electric car company has announced plans to build a $5 billion plant in Georgia.
There is a great deal of complexity and uncertainty in how electric vehicle policies work, said Barry Raab, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan.
“The basic idea is: Is there enough money in these credits and incentives to drive corporate decisions about what and where to produce cars,” he said, “in ways that are very difficult to know at the moment, but are very closely monitored by all of our business partners.”
Mr. Raab noted that Mr. Biden has pledged that new US-made electric cars will be built by union workers, but that many new electric-car and battery plants are already being built in non-union states, such as Georgia and North Carolina.
But Mr. Biden repeatedly stressed on Wednesday that recent investments in domestic electric vehicle production are also bringing in thousands of construction jobs, and that building a national charger network in the coming years will certainly require skilled electricians.
Overall, the vision laid out by the White House for a future dominated by battery-powered cars reverberated very clearly across the showroom floor on Wednesday.
as in past years, many manufacturers have placed plug-in hybrids and all-electric models front and center, abutting with model charging stations and under banners celebrating their makers’ battery-powered portfolio. In the back, other companies showcased combinations of portable charging stations and wireless charging technology.
The chief seemed pleased with the sight.
“You all know I’m a car guy,” Biden said. “I’m here because the auto and motor show here gives me many reasons to be optimistic about the future.”
He added, “I really mean it. Just looking at them and driving them gives me a sense of optimism – although I love speed too.”
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