WASHINGTON — For automakers to meet ambitious electrification goals in the U.S., electric vehicles have to be affordable to more consumers.
But right now, EVs are “not affordable to too many Americans,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. Automakers, including the Detroit 3, are aiming to electrify more — or all — of their portfolios and move those vehicles into the mainstream. President Joe Biden wants half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be zero-emission by 2030.
“If people can’t afford those vehicles,” she said, automakers “are not going to be able to sell them.”
She said consumer incentives — such as the current $7,500 tax credit — have helped make EVs more affordable. That credit phases out after an automaker sells 200,000 vehicles — a threshold both General Motors and Tesla have met. Toyota could reach the EV sales limit this year.
EVs are the “vehicle of the future,” Dingell said, but it’s going to take partnerships between the public and private sectors, including policies to address affordability.
“We can all set this goal,” she said. “Unless we have the policy that is going to support making that a success, they won’t be successful.”
The future of Build Back Better — a centerpiece of Biden’s economic and climate plans that included an expanded, albeit controversial, EV tax credit — still remains unclear.
The EV tax credit proposal — championed by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Dan Kildee, both Democrats, but opposed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — would have boosted consumer tax credits to as much as $12,500 for EVs assembled in a factory represented by a labor union with U.S.-produced batteries.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are working on figuring out a way that’s a fair way, that … treats the manufacturers in a fair way as well,” Dingell said.
She said key leaders, including Stabenow and Kildee, are still working on the issue. But Manchin, a Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia, is the linchpin for passing legislation.
“I think that there are discussions going on,” Dingell said. “I think there is a recognition of all stakeholders right now that these vehicles aren’t affordable, and it is my hope — working with all of the stakeholders — we will get to a place where something happens.”