Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin slammed the Biden administration’s lofty electric vehicle (EV) plans as “ludicrous,” saying the U.S. should first address root issues.
Manchin expressed concerns that the administration was focusing too much on electric vehicle incentives rather than shoring up the domestic battery and critical mineral supply chains, during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday. He noted that China, which controls the vast majority of global critical mineral mining and refining needed for renewable energy tech, could use its leverage over the U.S. for geopolitical reasons.
“There’s a waiting list for EVs right now with the fuel price at $4,” Manchin told Buttigieg. “But they still want us to throw $5,000 or $7,000 or $12,000 credit to buy an electric vehicle.”
“It makes no sense to me whatsoever when supply and demand — we can’t produce the product for the people who want it and we’re still going to pay them to take it? It’s absolutely ludicrous in my mind,” he continued. “But I’m thinking we are getting ourselves tangled in a situation that we’re not going to be able to supply … everything that’s going to be needed for this product.”
The West Virginia lawmaker then asked Buttigieg if the Department of Transportation shared his concerns about EV shortages and credits.
“We are following this closely and I think it’s a great example of one of the areas of manufacturing capacity that we’ve got to do more of right here on American soil,” Buttigieg responded. “If you look at the timelines that the physicists have laid out on climate, some of them can — in terms of our action and our need to rise to the challenge — could arguably be measured in months rather than years at this point.”
“So, we feel a sense of enormous urgency to accelerate not just the uptake of electric vehicles, but, as you note, their production and our productive capacity for them,” he added.
Buttigieg didn’t address Manchin’s concerns about the EV credit included in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.
U.S. consumers in the market for an EV must wait up to 18 months to receive their purchase depending on the desired model. Several popular Tesla EVs, for example, have wait times stretching into late 2023.
The Build Back Better Act includes an up to $12,500 tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles made with union labor using American batteries. EVs made in non-union shops would offer consumers much smaller credits.
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