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'We have to claim our own future': Kildee, Michigan Dems fuel electric vehicle push

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 05, 2021

WASHINGTON D.C. — Flanked by several Michigan lawmakers, President Joe Biden signed an executive order Thursday requiring automakers to cut tailpipe pollution and raise gas mileage by 2026, while also setting a national goal for electric vehicles to make 50 percent of all new U.S. car and truck sales by 2030.

We have to claim our own future, embrace this future, embrace this technology, and take all the steps we can to get there ahead of our competition. That's really what this is all about,” U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D–Flint) told FOX 17.

READ MORE: Biden to set goal of having half of all new vehicles sold be zero-emission by 2030

The congressman says this push will help keep and create automotive jobs in Michigan, while in turn preventing supply-chain failures like the chip shortage that’s hampering regular vehicle production right now.

“If we fix that, and we move to electric faster than our competition, not only will we help save the planet, help save the American auto industry but we'll also put a lot of Americans to work in really good-paying jobs,” Kildee added.

“I’ve always said Michigan workers are the best in the world. And this is their moment. These new standards will cut carbon pollution while creating new jobs at the same time," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Michigan) said.

Rechargeable electric Jeep Wrangler
This photo provided by Fiat Chrysler shows the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe. Fiat Chrysler on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, unveiled the first of what it says will be many Jeeps powered by batteries. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is the brand's first vehicle that can travel on electricity in the U.S. The gas-electric hybrid SUV can go 25 miles on battery power before a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine takes over. (Fiat Chrysler via AP)

The Big Three automakers are on board, but it’s still a steep task to reach that percentage by 2030. Electric vehicles are expected to make up just 2.5 percent of U.S. car sales this year, according to a report from Edmunds.

“Nobody wants to force the consumer to buy something they don't want. We think over time, and I think over a pretty short time, people will see the value in electric vehicles. You know that there was the same skepticism about 100 years ago when the horseless carriage came along, people said, 'I'm never going to get one.' And within a decade there was one in front of every house. This is the kind of transition that I think we should expect to see,” Kildee said.

Kildee’s hoping incentives, like a bill he proposed to expand the e-vehicle tax credit, will help boost the consumer market.

“That would essentially be like a rebate to consumers; when they purchase a vehicle at the dealership, they get a reduction on the amount. We do that because we want to get enough vehicles sold so that we are at scale, and the price of an electric vehicle is at par or lower than the price of an internal combustion vehicle.”

Democratic lawmakers say the goal will take added support from Congress. The bipartisan infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate includes more than $7 billion in funding for EV infrastructure, but Kildee says more is needed. He thinks additional funding and his tax credit could be included in a bigger budget-reconciliation bill that his fellow House Democrats want to push through.

“If it's the infrastructure bill or the budget bill, or this reconciliation process, one way or another we have to get this done.”

"We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to make these goals come to life, and I’m committed to collaborating on intentional actions and a bold reconciliation package to do this," says Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Detroit).

“My worry is that if we choose not to invest in the future, not to embrace electric vehicles, that the future will still be electric. It'll be electric Chinese vehicles that Americans will be forced to purchase, because it'll be the only thing in the market. We can't let that happen," added Kildee.

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