Trump’s EV Misconceptions in Michigan Talk

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Trump's EV Misconceptions in Michigan Talk

Navigating the political landscape of electric vehicles (EVs) presents a complex challenge. From production concerns and origin requirements to potential bans on gas-powered vehicles, finding a solution that addresses every issue seems nearly impossible. This sets the stage for a politically intense transition as the automotive world shifts towards electrification over the coming decade.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your go-to source for the latest in EV and automotive technology news. In today’s edition, we’re dissecting former U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks on electric vehicles, questioning BYD’s claims of having “no plans” to enter the U.S. EV market, and acknowledging European automakers’ acceptance of the 2035 ban on gasoline cars. Let’s explore these topics further.

30%: Trump’s Mistakes on Electric Cars in Michigan

Donald Trump, aiming for a return to office as the GOP’s leading contender, recently hosted a rally in Waterford Township, Michigan. Drawing a crowd of nearly 2,000, Trump’s speech spanned almost an hour and a half, covering various subjects, among them electric vehicles.

But some of his statements were quite exaggerated. The Detroit Free Press made a strong effort to correct them:

“They ordered a hit job on Michigan manufacturing with this insane electric vehicle mandate.” Mostly false. In fact, the global auto market is moving to electric vehicles and will be a majority of vehicles sold in the next 20 years or so. The problem with backing away from pressuring the auto industry today to develop EV technology is that America will lose the overall manufacturing lead. China will win. China is prepared to take over the world with electric vehicles. If North American and European companies don’t focus on pushing forward, other countries will come in and eat their lunch. There will be no coming back from that. The Detroit Three could be out of business. In addition, automakers have invested billions in Michigan and other parts of the U.S. to lay the groundwork for local electric vehicle production.

In his address, Trump argued that electric vehicles (EVs) are unpopular, a claim contradicted by the fact that over 1.1 million EVs were registered in the U.S. in 2023 alone. This accounts for approximately 7.7% of the entire car market. Although companies like Ford have had to adjust production due to initial overestimations of demand for models like the F-150 Lightning, stating that EVs are unwanted is not accurate.

Trump also stated that EVs for sale today are prohibitively expensive. This isn’t entirely true, as the Tesla Model 3, for example, is available at prices starting around $35,090. When compared to the average new vehicle price in the U.S., which was $48,247 in November 2023, according to Cox Automotive, EVs can be more affordable. It’s noted that on average, EVs may cost about 10% more than their gasoline counterparts, but federal tax incentives and lower total ownership costs are expected to mitigate these higher upfront costs.

The Biden Administration’s emission rules are pushing car makers to innovate, especially as the world shifts towards electric vehicles (EVs). U.S. manufacturers need to keep up with global trends, notably Europe’s push for EVs by 2035, to stay competitive.

Though Trump made some exaggerated claims about EVs, he also said things that appealed to American auto workers. The Detroit Free Press article on this topic is a good read, highlighting the importance of EV discussions in the upcoming election cycle.

60%: BYD Confirms “No Current Plans” for U.S. EV Sales

Former President Trump raised concerns about Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) entering the U.S. market, highlighting the use of Mexico as a potential gateway due to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which took effect in 2020 and was negotiated during his term. This trade agreement has made it easier for foreign automakers, like the Chinese EV manufacturer BYD, to consider entering the U.S. market.

Despite these concerns, BYD has stated through its Executive Vice President and CEO of BYD Americas, Stella Li, in a Yahoo Finance interview, that the company currently has no plans to introduce new vehicles in the U.S. market—at least for the time being. This statement comes amidst speculation about BYD’s interest in expanding into the U.S., the world’s second-largest auto market, leveraging their production capabilities.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, BYD Executive Vice President and CEO of BYD Americas Stella Li said that the automaker has no current plans to sell new vehicles in the U.S.—or, at least not yet.

It’s an interesting market but it’s very complicated if you’re talking about EV, and then I think the US market is a little bit slowdown on electrification and there are a lot of confusing, also very complicated, so we’re saying, ‘No… we don’t have plans to come to the US.’

[…]

Everything is complicated. Politics are complicated… and it’s confusing for the consumer, and then they don’t know which to choose.

In the midst of debates over Chinese EVs possibly entering the U.S. market via Mexico, BYD’s denial of expansion plans could be a strategic move to avoid controversy. Declaring no intention to enter the market might reduce scrutiny over using trade agreements as a backdoor.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing issued a report highlighting serious risks for the U.S. auto sector, including the use of Mexico by foreign car makers as a production base and entry point to the U.S. market. BYD was specifically mentioned as a company of concern in this context.Here’s a snippet:

In February 2024, Chinese auto giant [BYD] unveiled a fully electric crossover sport utility vehicle priced at an astonishingly low $14,000. News of this ultra-cheap electric vehicle (EV) had the auto industry media abuzz, with one outlet declaring that “Americans would eat this up,” and that the vehicle would “sell like hotcakes.” But there is always a cost. In this case, it may very well be the U.S. auto industry

Although BYD currently states it has no intention of launching vehicles in the U.S., this doesn’t mean it won’t consider entering the market in the future. The company might be waiting for a more favorable political climate or for its Mexican production capabilities to be fully developed before making any strategic moves.

90%: European Car Makers Accept 2035 Fossil Fuel Vehicle Ban

Reuters has reported that key car manufacturers operating within the European Union have decided not to oppose regulations poised to ban the sale of vehicles powered by combustible fossil fuels.

This stance was highlighted by Luca de Meo, head of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association and CEO of Renault, during a recent auto show in Geneva. De Meo emphasized the automotive industry’s duty to adhere to these upcoming rules.

De Meo stated that the role of automotive industry leaders is not to dispute the regulations. “We are accepting the 2035 deadline. It’s time to focus on meeting it,” he said.

The European Union’s current rules aim to eliminate new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Some nations, like England, are setting even earlier goals, such as 2030, while countries like Germany want to modify the ban to allow cars that run on synthetic “e-fuels.”

Luca de Meo believes achieving the 2035 target is “potentially feasible,” but stresses that success depends on creating the right conditions. This includes regulatory support and industry efforts to ensure a smooth transition. He emphasizes the need for more government subsidies and an improved charging network to encourage wider adoption of electric vehicles.

100%: Revisiting: Would You Choose a Chinese EV?

While BYD insists it has no immediate plans to enter the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) market, evidence suggests that the arrival of Chinese-made EVs in America might be closer than we think, possibly through direct sales or through components. The potential for these vehicles to become a significant presence on U.S. roads raises intriguing possibilities for American consumers.

Among BYD’s offerings, models like the stylish Seal or the incredibly affordable sub-$12,000 Seagull stand out as noteworthy options for different reasons. For those with a penchant for performance, the YangWang U9 supercar presents an exciting alternative, potentially competing with Tesla’s upcoming Roadster for a coveted spot in the garages of American EV enthusiasts.

Given the evolving landscape of the EV market and the growing interest in sustainable transportation options, I’m curious to hear how opinions have shifted in recent months. Which of these vehicles, if any, has captured your interest, and how do you feel about the prospect of Chinese-made EVs making their way onto U.S. roads? Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments below.

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