Will joining forces be enough?
The list of new and purely battery-electric vehicles from mainstream automakers keeps growing and it's difficult to keep track of them all. Whether it's something affordable and mainstream like the Chevrolet Bolt EUV or something with a six-figure price tag, such as the Tesla Model S Plaid, there's now literally an EV for everyone. As more automakers pledge to ditch combustion engines, two key auto industry players are not happy. Big Oil and its new ally, auto suppliers, are doing everything they can to slow the pace of change.
Reuters reports the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), a lobbyist group that represents over 1,000 vehicle suppliers in the US, stated to a Senate subcommittee on transportation that the Biden Administration should focus on setting new regulatory requirements for combustion-engined vehicles instead of advocating for battery electrics.
In short, keep improving internal combustion engines for as long as possible in order to prevent job losses. "If we move too quickly to a fully electrified fleet we could lose 30% of the supplier jobs in this country," said Ann Wilson, MEMA's senior vice president of government affairs.
At present, there are around 560,000 people in the US working in auto parts manufacturing.
Wilson emphasized that ICE vehicles will still be on the road for at least another two decades and it's important to maintain their most critical components. "Engines, transmissions, after-treatment systems, and other parts will simply not be manufactured for battery electric and fuel cell vehicles," she added. Her persuasion efforts may not be good enough.
The current administration has placed clean energy and vehicle electrification towards the top of its agenda. There's a proposed $174 billion infrastructure investment plan that includes tax credits for EVs buyers and millions of additional charging stations. It does not, however, call for phasing out gasoline-engined vehicles entirely, which include hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The unspoken hope is that the free market will ultimately decide in favor of BEVs partially thanks to those tax credits, charging networks, and automakers' own initiatives. Green and sustainable are quickly becoming synonymous with luxury and premium, and that'll trickle down to mainstream offerings.
For its part, Big Oil aims to block efforts to provide fuel subsidies for EVs and any proposed taxes on C02 emissions. Big Oil and groups like MEMA can argue all they want, but they're likely only to achieve some limited delays, at best.