June 25, 2024

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Biden doesn’t want you to buy an electric car from China. And here’s why.

Biden doesn’t want you to buy an electric car from China.  And here’s why.

President Biden wants more American cars and trucks to run on electricity, not gas. His administration has pushed for that goal on multiple fronts, including tough new auto emissions regulations and generous new subsidies to help American consumers shave up to $7,500 off the cost of a new electric vehicle.

Mr. Biden’s aides agree that electric cars — Which retails for more than $53,000 On average in the US – it will sell faster here if it costs less. In fact, there is a wave of new electric vehicles that are much cheaper than what customers can currently buy in the United States. They have proven very popular in Europe.

But the president and his team do not want Americans to buy these cheap cars, which retail elsewhere for less than $10,000, because they are made in China. This is true even though an increase in low-cost imported electric vehicles may help lower car prices overall, which could help Biden in his re-election campaign at a time when inflation remains voters’ top economic concern.

Instead, the president is taking steps to make Chinese electric cars more expensive, largely to protect American automakers. Biden signed an executive action earlier this month that quadruples tariffs on those vehicles to 100 percent.

These tariffs would put many potential Chinese imports at a significant cost disadvantage compared to American-made electric vehicles. But some models Like discount BYD SeagullIts cost could still be lower than some American competitors even after tariffs, and that’s one reason Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio Some other Democrats have called on Mr. Biden to ban Chinese electric vehicle imports entirely.

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The apparent clash between climate concerns and American manufacturing has angered some environmentalists and liberal economists, who say the country and the world would be better off if Biden welcomed the import of low-cost, low-emissions technologies to combat climate change.

Mr. Biden and his aides reject this criticism. They say the president’s efforts to restrict Chinese electric vehicles and other clean technology imports represent an important counter to Beijing’s illegal and harmful trade practices.

They insist that Biden’s trade approach will ultimately benefit American jobs and national security — along with the planet.

Here are the political and political considerations driving Mr. Biden’s attempt to protect American producers from Chinese competition.

China already dominates major clean energy manufacturing in areas such as solar cells and batteries. Biden’s aides want to prevent him from gaining monopolies in similar industries, such as electric cars, for several reasons.

These include climate concerns. Administration officials say Chinese factories, which tend to run on fossil fuels such as coal, produce more greenhouse gas emissions than American factories.

There is also a central economic reason for denying China a monopoly: ensuring that electric cars and trucks are always available at competitive prices. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, as critical products like semiconductors have become difficult to obtain from China and other Asian countries that the United States has relied on. Prices of consumer electronics and other products that rely on imported materials have risen, leading to increased inflation.

Biden officials want to avoid a similar scenario for electric cars. Ali Al-Zaidi, Biden’s national climate adviser, said concentrating the supply of electric vehicles and other advanced green technologies in China would risk “the world’s collective ability to access the technologies we need to succeed in the clean energy economy.”

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Biden officials say they are not trying to bring the world’s entire electric vehicle supply chain to the United States. They are making deals with allies to supply minerals for advanced batteries, for example, and are encouraging countries in Europe and elsewhere to support their domestic production of clean technology. But they are particularly concerned about the security implications of a major competitor like China controlling space.

The administration has begun investigations into software and hardware risks for future imported smart cars — electric or otherwise — from China that could track the locations of Americans and report back to Beijing. Liberal economists also fear that China may cut off access to new cars or key components for them, for strategic purposes.

Allowing China to control electric vehicle production risks replicating long-standing economic and security challenges for gasoline-powered cars, said Elizabeth Pancotti, director of special initiatives at the liberal Roosevelt Institute in Washington, who welcomed Biden’s industrial policy efforts.

Americans have struggled for decades to deal with decisions by often hostile oil-producing countries, which operate as part of OPEC, to curtail production and raise gasoline prices. She said that China could wreak similar havoc in the electric car market if it pushed other countries out of this field.

If that happens, she added, “reversing that will be very difficult.”

There’s no denying that politics also plays a big role in Mr. Biden’s decisions. Simply put: He promises that his climate program will create jobs – good-paying manufacturing jobs, including in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

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Mr. Biden is a strong supporter of organized labor, counting on union votes to help win those states. He has pledged that the energy transition will empower unionized workers. He is betting that their support for tariffs aimed at protecting American manufacturing jobs will dwarf any complaints from environmentalists who want faster progress in cutting emissions.

“One of the groups that make up the Democratic Party that is highly organized, and that gets people out and knocking on doors, is the labor movement, more so than the environmental movement,” said Todd Vachon, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University and Rutgers University. Author of Clean Air, Good Jobs: The US Labor Party and the Struggle for Climate Justice.

He added that these concerns have been particularly salient given that many clean energy jobs are at startups where workers are not unionized.

Mr. Biden brought these concerns to the forefront when he announced his tariff decision last week.

“In 2000, when cheap steel from China began flooding the market, American steel towns across Pennsylvania and Ohio were hit hard,” he said at the White House. “Ironworkers and steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio have lost their jobs. I will not let that happen again.”

David Gillies He contributed reporting from New York.