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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: electric vehicles

Billion-Dollar Electric Vehicle Plant Slated For Ohio Thanks To Biden Bill

Car manufacturer Honda and electronics conglomerate LG announced plans to build a $4.4 billion facility for electric vehicle battery production in Ohio on August 29. The announcement comes two weeks after the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains incentives for consumers to buy electric vehicles with American-made components such as batteries, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 15.

The two multinational companies expect the facility's construction to begin in 2023, with the plant ready to commence production by 2025. It is the first investment announced by Honda toward producing their own batteries since the company said it would go all-electric by 2040.

Honda’s CEO Toshihiro Mibe noted in the company's statement that “Honda is committed to the local procurement of EV batteries which is a critical component of EVs. This initiative in the U.S. with LGES [LG Energy Solution Ltd.], the leading global battery manufacturer, will be part of such a Honda approach.”

The production of a majority of electric vehicle batteries currently in use occurs in China, but Biden has enacted multiple policies to encourage shifting production to the United States and create jobs for American workers. In a March 29 statement, the White House said its efforts “to build a clean energy economy are driving companies to make more in America rebuild our supply chains here at home, and ultimately bring down costs for the American people.”

The Inflation Reduction Act passed Congress with only Democratic votes in the face of uniform Republican opposition in the House and Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris advanced the law with a tiebreaking vote in the Senate, and it was later signed by President Joe Biden.

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act's $369 billion in funding focused on clean energy and reducing climate change, there is a subsidy for car buyers of $7,500 on electric vehicles. The law requires that qualifying vehicles are largely assembled in the U.S. with components made in America, and phasing out previous credits that didn't require U.S.-based production. Provisions for incentives were also included for companies like Honda so they can continue to compete in the U.S. market, and other carmakers such as Tesla, GM, and Ford have cars on the market that will already qualify for new credits.

Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed into law in November 2021, has $3.1 billion in subsidies for companies who choose to build electric vehicle-related facilities domestically.

Multiple companies have announced plans to build production facilities in the U.S. since both laws passed and other policies championed by President Biden went into effect, planning billions in investments and thousands of new jobs in multiple states around the country.

GM announced in January that it would be investing $7 billion in Michigan across 4 facilities focused on electric vehicles and battery production. Biden released a statement praising the decision.

In May, Stellantis and Samsung SDI announced that together they would spend $2.5 billion to build a battery production plant in Kokomo, Indiana. The companies stated the facility is projected to create 1,400 new jobs in the area. That same month, Hyundai said that they would be building a $6.5 billion EV factory outside of Savannah, Georgia, which they project would create 8,100 jobs for the state.

In July, Panasonic said they will build a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant in De Soto, Kansas after forging a partnership with Tesla to supply batteries for that company’s line of cars.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel, and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

When Biden's Partisan Objectives Clash With His Urgent Climate Goals

The Biden administration, to its credit, never misses a chance to emphasize the importance of dealing with climate change. President Joe Biden calls it an "existential" threat to humanity. John Kerry, his special envoy on the issue, said in April: "That means life and death. And the question is, are we behaving as if it is? And the answer is no."

That was certainly true under former President Donald Trump, who championed coal, abandoned the 2015 Paris agreement on climate, and dismissed global warming as a hoax. Biden has brought a badly needed shift on policy. But his policies sometimes are at war with his rhetoric.

One crucial part of his agenda is speeding the transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric ones. Cars and light trucks account for 16 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and Biden wants half of all autos sold in this country to be electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030. That transition would significantly reduce carbon output.

But let's not get the idea that the administration is laser-focused on whatever it takes to curb climate change. Its enthusiasm for electric vehicles, it turns out, is not unlimited. In Biden's eyes, some electric vehicles are good and some are bad, and the difference has nothing to do with greenhouse gases.

The social spending and climate package recently approved by the House of Representatives would encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles by providing a tax credit of as much as $12,500 for each purchase, an increase over the existing $7,500 credit. That indirect subsidy is needed because these cars generally cost more to purchase than comparable conventional cars.

But Biden and his congressional allies are not enamored of all electric vehicles. They want to restrict the full tax break to those cars that are built by union workers in the United States and have batteries built by union workers in the United States. Buyers of other vehicles would get only a $7,500 credit — a $5,000 penalty.

That penalty would apply to almost all of the 50 electric vehicles currently sold here, including every model made by Tesla, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Nissan Leaf, the Rivian pickup, the Hyundai Ioniq, and more. The only exceptions are two Chevy Bolt models. It would also harm workers in U.S. plants operated by foreign automakers, which are nonunion and produce nearly half of all the vehicles sold here.

The discrimination is a giant favor to the United Auto Workers, a stalwart of the Democratic Party that has been weathering a major corruption scandal. "The union has stressed to the Biden administration that the country shouldn't sacrifice union jobs to meet its climate goals," reported The Wall Street Journal. A White House spokesman insisted that "jobs taking on the climate crisis must also be jobs that build the middle class."

There are some obvious flaws in the administration's logic. One is that given the monumental size of the battle against climate change, it is imperative to enlist every automaker, including nonunion ones.

To exclude nearly all electric cars from the full tax credit will make the national transition away from gas-powered vehicles — a hugely formidable undertaking under the best of circumstances — slower and more expensive. It's exactly the wrong strategy if you place a supreme priority on saving the planet from excessively high temperatures.

The UAW has repeatedly lost elections allowing workers at foreign-owned plants to decide whether to sign up with the union. Limiting the tax credit will hurt those workers. It will also encourage automakers to build electric cars abroad, where they can achieve lower labor costs — enough, perhaps, to overcome the tax disadvantage.

It will also be a boon to the internal combustion engine. As Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told me, "If you raise the cost of electric vehicles too much, people will buy gas-powered cars."

The Trump administration refused to require any sacrifice from fossil fuel companies and their employees merely to avert the worst-case climate scenario. The Biden administration is willing to act against climate change, but it too insists on protecting certain groups at the expense of the broad American public — and all humanity.

Denying the full tax credit to the vast majority of electric vehicles will mean more carbon emissions and warming of the planet. But hey — it's not like this is a matter of life and death, right?

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Biden Infrastructure Plan Can Slow Climate Change: Expert

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A bipartisan infrastructure deal backed by President Joe Biden could be key in addressing climate change, one climate expert says, even if talks on the bill have been slowed by GOP pushback.

Evan Endres, climate and energy policy manager for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania, told The American Independent Foundation on Monday that his state has a "complicated carbon puzzle that needs to be solved" and that a set of bipartisan infrastructure investments being considered by Congress could be one part of the solution.

Last month, Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a $579 billion framework for those investments in transportation, broadband, and water systems infrastructure. Although negotiations on the exact language of the bill have stalled, discussions are ongoing.

The framework includes funds to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, electrify school and transit buses, upgrade the power grid, and clean up pollution.

Addressing those issues alone would be a boon to Pennsylvania, Endres said. "A lot of positive things are being discussed — concrete climate solutions that would create jobs and opportunity in Pennsylvania," he said.

Electrification of trucks and "heavy duty equipment," for instance, would jumpstart the state's economy directly, he explained.

"Mack Trucks, an American stalwart brand, makes an electric truck right here in Pennsylvania, at the Lehigh Valley Operations in Macungie ... heavy duty electric trucks you might see in a municipal trash fleet," he said. "A lot of the support for heavy duty electrification of equipment speaks directly to a brand that's part of the heart and soul of Pennsylvania."

He also noted that investments in battery and storage capacity could benefit the state. "We're a major exporter of electricity to other states," Endres said. "The more we can improve storage, the more we can export renewable energy."

As of now, the state is not only emitting greenhouse gases at home — it is also sending it out to other states.

"We're fifth in the nation for carbon emissions, we're a major exporter of energy to most states in the mid-Atlantic. We're the second largest net exporter of electricity behind Texas," he said. "Not only are we a large carbon emitter, but we're exporting that carbon-intensive electricity to other states who are also working to solve the carbon problem, the climate problem."

Endres is similarly bullish on provisions to deploy renewable energy generation efforts on the same lands that were once used for coal mining.

"That's something that should excite Pennsylvanians, particularly communities close to those formerly mined lands," he said. "You're bringing a new economic stimulation, development to those same lands through renewable energy, solar energy. That's a great intersection for those areas."

With a bipartisan infrastructure package passed, he added, more jobs will follow. "That tech requires a lot of construction, jobs for pipefitters, electricians, building trades, laborers," he said.

Endres also flagged another area that could lead to a jobs boost: cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells.

The state's fossil fuel legacy, he said, includes "an unfathomable number of abandoned oil and gas wells. It's not uncommon to hear of hunters in the woods in Pennsylvania stumbling on an open well emitting methane as a pollutant — maybe it was drilled 80 or 90 years ago and no one is responsible."

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has documented about 9,000 of those orphaned wells — but estimates the number that need to be capped is in the hundreds of thousands.

"Going through, finding these things, capping them safely," Endres said, is "not only a climate solution but a big job that will require engineers, technicians, people who know how to work safely with open gas wells, people being out in the field to identify, tag them, and assess the priority."

He added, "It's a big problem and a climate liability. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than just carbon emission."

In all, the bipartisan package is a series of "really great first steps" and some "really great second steps," but ones that need to be hurried along soon.

"There's a lot of promising change happening. What we need is the kind of policy and investments that put a little gasoline on that fire of change," he concluded, before adding jokingly, "...Or flip the switch on the solar panels."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Auto Industry Accelerates Toward A Clean Energy Future

General Motors has just delivered an electric shock to the automotive world. America's biggest automaker says that it wants its entire vehicle lineup to be electric by 2035. That's a mere 14 years from now.

This shouldn't be a shock. Electric cars are coming at us fast.

But recall that less than two years ago, then-President Donald Trump tried to slow this necessary transition. He demanded that carmakers reject California's tighter carbon-emissions standards — rules that would have helped Detroit move more quickly toward the clean energy vehicles the world was demanding.

GM sided with Trump, while Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW were happy to work with California. Trump then retaliated against America's No. 2 carmaker, accusing Ford of wanting to build "a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn't work as well." None of those charges are true, in case you're wondering.

Cynics say that GM CEO Mary Barra was playing up to Trump then and is now playing up to President Joe Biden, who is going big on clean energy. In any case, the move to an all-electric fleet is a business decision.

Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands say they will ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2030. China announced that most vehicles sold there by 2035 must be electric. (GM sells more cars in China, through joint ventures, than in the United States.)

For an idea of how Wall Street views the electric vehicle future, consider that investors put a value on Tesla — an electric car and clean energy company founded in 2003 — ten times that of GM.

Oh, and while Washington was trying to hold domestic carmakers back, China was building dominance. China leads the world in making battery packs for electric vehicles, by far. It's grabbed control of much of Earth's raw materials needed for electric cars. And it is offering princely subsidies for the vehicles' purchase.

Biden wants to extend the $7,500 tax incentive to buy EVs and says he will build 500,000 charging stations coast to coast. Both moves would further boost domestic demand for electric vehicles. That would lower the automakers' per-vehicle costs in a global market, raising the companies' profits.

But how strong is current domestic demand for electric vehicles? Let's put it this way: One day after GM started taking orders for a zero-emission Hummer, the first year's production was sold out.

Back in the days of oil supremacy, the Hummer had become the epitome of polluting excess. Some owners seemed to like it for that reason. But power is no longer the province of fossil fuels. The electric Hummer has 1,000 horsepower and can go zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds.

Meanwhile, the Ford Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle was a star at the recent Beijing Auto Show. The Mach-E is a complicated concept. Not your pony car of yore, it is an electrified SUV cosmetically altered to look a bit Mustang-like. It has four doors! Whatever. Edmunds just made this car its top-rated luxury EV, beating out Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Polestar, and Tesla.

Funny to read that Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and former GM executive, said she told carmakers: "When Joe Biden gets elected, your world will turn upside down. You've got to be at the table or else this thing gets jammed down your throat."

By contrast, Bloomberg News reports that "Biden's position has been met with a collective sigh of relief in some quarters of Detroit." Finally, an administration is interested in easing the necessary transition.

GM plans to build an electric-vehicle battery factory in the Lordstown, Ohio, area. Here we go.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Auto execs. want to sell you an electric car

Despite polls indicating an unwillingness to pay for the technology, auto executive are pushing ahead with plans to produce and market electric vehicles. Mark Perry, Nissan’s North American product planning chief, estimated that electric vehicles will take 10% of the market over the next 10 years. The Center for Automotive Research disagreed, releasing a study saying car prices could jump by up to $9,000 to cover manufacturing costs, which could cannibalize any money the consumer was hoping to save on gas. [Detroit Free Press]