Former US President Donald Trump has pledged to kill so-called electric vehicle (EV) mandates, arguing they’ll be the death knell of the American automotive industry and help fuel the rise of China.
“Now they want to go all-electric and put you all out of business,” he said at a rally in Macomb County, Michigan.
“Biden’s mandate isn’t a government regulation, it’s a government assassination of your jobs and of your industry.
“Why is it that these big, powerful car companies with guys that are making 35 million a year immediately quit. They say ‘you want electric vehicles, we’ll give it to you’, when the damn things don’t go far enough and they’re too expensive,” he said.
He said on the first day of a second Trump Administration he will terminate Joe Biden’s electric vehicle mandate and “cancel every job-killing regulation that is crushing American auto workers”.
“I will unleash a thing called American energy, stop the ban on the internal-combustion engine, and we will drill baby drill, and we will make zero environmental difference,”he said.
“Biden’s job-killing EV mandate has dictated that nearly 70 per cent of all cars sold in the United States must be fully electric less than 10 years from now.
But the proposed federal vehicle emissions standards he’s referring to, announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April, don’t specifically mandate a percentage of new car sales be electric-only.
Instead, the EPA projects EVs could account for 67 per cent of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46 per cent of new medium-duty vehicle sales in 2032 based on more stringent emissions standards.
The proposed regulations allow for different pathways to reaching a 56 per cent reduction in light-duty greenhouse gas emissions between 2026 and 2032, with regulations getting more stringent each year. The end result is a CO2 figure of 82 grams/mile (51 grams/kilometre).
The Biden Administration hasn’t spoken of any kind of ban on new combustion-powered vehicle sales, even if some states have announced bans.
Former President Trump spoke at Drake Enterprises, a component supplier whose employees aren’t represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union that is currently on strike at key General Motors, Ford and Stellantis facilities.
While the former President spoke at a non-UAW facility, US President Joe Biden visited the UAW picket line at GM’s Willow Run Distribution Center.
The UAW isn’t opposing EVs, with President Shawn Fain saying the union “supports and is ready for the transition to a clean auto industry” but cautioned this transition needs to be one that’s “just” and “ensures auto workers have a place in the new economy”.
He has welcomed the US Department of Energy’s US$15.5 billion (A$24bn) in new grants and loans to support an EV transition, announced last month.
“We are glad to see the Biden Administration doing its part to reject the false choice between a good job and a green job. This new policy makes clear to employers that the EV transition must include strong union partnerships with the high pay and safety standards that generations of UAW members have fought for and won,” said Mr Fain.
He subsequently criticised Trump on CNN for the “pathetic irony” in holding a rally for union members at a nonunion business.
The UAW endorsed Biden in the 2020 election, but hasn’t endorsed the President yet ahead of the 2024 election.
Former President Trump has claimed EVs may be worse for the environment than combustion-powered vehicles, but said he welcomes people buying them.
“If you want to buy an electric car, that’s absolutely fine, I’m all for it, but we should not be forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles,” he said.
“I could see electric cars working great for certain uses, short-distance uses.”
He asked why Ford and GM are supporting the Biden Administration’s move on emissions, claiming these automakers’ EVs aren’t selling and you can “buy them for peanuts”, and argued striking workers should look beyond whatever deal they secure as these automakers will just end up closing American factories “in two years”.
Trump is trying to shore up support in Michigan, a key swing state, ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
He famously broke the “Blue Wall” in the 2016 presidential election, beating Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – if by small margins.
But four years later, these typically Democratic-leaning states swung back to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, which helped propel him to victory and saw him inaugurated as the 46th US President.