UAW and automakers urge Biden to adopt expansive EV strategy

The Biden administration seems to be leaning in this direction, but the UAW and AAI want to see big things.

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The United Auto Workers union and Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents a number of major automakers, have encouraged the Biden administration to adopt a laundry list of pro-EV proposals, arguing the recommendations provide the keys to the US’ success in a transition to electric vehicle sales and manufacturing.

In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, the groups called for sweeping investments into raw material refinement and battery production, but also urged the administration to boost public awareness of EVs and their benefits, and asked the federal government to consider an expansion of tax credits currently available to EV buyers.

“We stand ready to work with your Administration to define the bold, comprehensive vision and innovation that will place the US at the forefront of creating a cleaner future for motor vehicle transportation,” the groups said in the joint letter. “This transformation is greater than any one policy, branch or level of government or industry sector.”

The UAW represents tens of thousands of US auto workers nationwide, while the Alliance for Automotive Innovation includes Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, Toyota, Volkswagen and more automakers in support of these plans. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the proposals, which comes ahead of the launch of the president’s anticipated multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan on Wednesday.

The specifics of the groups’ proposals include an expansion of federal tax credits available to EV buyers, which currently sit at $7,500. Legislation in congress already aims to address this, though a separate plan from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls for point-of-sale rebates when buying an EV. The UAW and AAI also called for an aggressive consumer awareness campaign and a prioritization of federal research and development dollars to reduce costs and improve performance of batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen fuel generation.

We’ll likely see way more of these in the near future.

Electrify America

Appealing to the president’s campaign promise to build a nationwide infrastructure of charging stations, the two groups called for extending tax credits for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, and expanding them to include medium- and heavy-duty vehicle refueling. They also proposed a grant system to help states build out EV charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure on federal highways, and additional tax credits to help consumers install home charging stations at a lower cost. Building codes should also receive modern makeovers to include charging points for multiunit dwellings to ensure the transition doesn’t leave anyone out.

Arguing whichever country takes the lead in EV manufacturing, the UAW and AAI said the US could shape future supply chains to the nation’s benefit, adding the Biden administration should expand the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit. The credit allows companies to retool, expand or build new facilities to build relevant components to the EV and fuel-cell industry. Most importantly, the groups want to see the US take a stronger stance on “the development of US-based supplies of critical minerals.”

In 2019, China accounted for 80% of the world’s total output of advanced battery raw materials. The UAW and AAI said this risks US jobs and the nation’s manufacturing readiness. “Workers will disproportionately suffer if we do not get it right,” the UAW said in a separate statement. “The reality is that we have a long way to go in terms of battery technology, refueling infrastructure and, importantly market demand in order to successfully make this transition.”

The Biden administration already ordered a short- and long-term review to help boost the US’ readiness when it comes to the EV supply chain, including raw materials for batteries.

The UAW and AAI said its proposals would cost the US as much as $37 billion to renew and expand relevant tax credits to begin the strong push into EVs. However, the costs if the US fails to act are much greater, they argued.

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