US President Biden said last week that he wanted half of new cars sold in the country to be battery-powered by the end of the decade. To do so, he revealed a multi-layered strategy which would ease US consumers away from gasoline-powered cars and trucks and toward electric vehicles. The statement from the White House includes the goal for the US to lead in electric vehicle manufacturing, infrastructure, and innovation.
To do so, the US will invest in:
- Installing a national network of electric vehicle charging stations;
- Delivering point-of-sale consumer incentives to spur US manufacturing and union jobs;
- Financing the retooling and expansion of the full domestic manufacturing supply chain; and,
- Innovating the next generation of clean technologies to maintain our competitive edge.
If successful, the plan would cut about one-third of the carbon dioxide produced annually by the US and prevent the burning of about 200 billion gallons of gasoline over the lifetime of the cars.
The Biden Infrastructure Plan & Electric Vehicle Manufacturing
Transportation accounts for 30% of US greenhouse gas emissions — the largest percentage of any sector. The Biden plan to tackle transportation emissions includes provisions to raise auto fuel efficiency standards for 2026 models manufactured by big US car companies. It also earmarks $7.5 billion for charging stations for electric vehicles in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill currently moving its way through the House.
The DOE and Biden administration have identified the need to establish a secure end-to-end battery materials and technology supply chain that supports economic competitiveness, job creation, and national security.
The executive order sets an ambitious new target for new vehicles sold in 2030. The target for the first time puts up a target bar for “zero-emissions vehicles.” The statement from the White House acknowledged that, “Despite pioneering the technology, the US is behind in the race to manufacture these vehicles and the batteries that go in them.”
Dems Want More Electric Vehicle Manufacturing
A group of more than two dozen US House Democrats have urged their party’s leaders to include more funding for electric vehicle investments in the $3.5 trillion spending plan, according to The Hill. They argue that the amount allocated in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed doesn’t go far enough.
In a letter designed by core Democrats Doris Matsui (CA), Gerry Connolly (VA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA), and Yvette Clarke (NY), the group of 29 lawmakers called for meeting Biden’s original proposal of $174 billion to support EV manufacturing.
They say that the roughly $13 billion EV investments in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which the Senate passed 69–30, “fall far short” of Biden’s original amount.
EV Sales on the Rise
Analysts argue that electric cars will become more prominent on roads much sooner than has been typically reported. Clearly, the Biden infrastructure plan points to much more EV manufacturing as a result of introducing more favorable EV government policies than ever before.
US EV sales have been record-breaking so far in 2021 despite the pandemic and supply chain issues. The reasons for this surge are many, including:
- Lots of new models are now available from which to choose — in fact, there are more than 500 EV models on the market worldwide.
- 2020 EVs were able to travel 223 miles before needing a charge, on average, up from 103 miles in 2012 (and the 2012 figure was heavily influenced by the expensive Tesla Model S).
- Improvements in battery density have been achieved, with many more strides in research offering additional promising benefits.
- Battery reuse has become a focal point, accentuating the bi-national standard of the US and Canada, the Standard for Evaluation for Repurposing Batteries.
- More charging points are available than ever before.
- Government policies like those recently announced by the Biden administration make driving dirty cars more difficult.
Electric car sales charts are celebrating Tesla but are also showing great promise from other automakers like Volkswagen, Audi, Nissan, Ford, and GM. CNET offers an overview of EVs on sale for 2021, including their range.
A common critique of EVs is that they cost more to purchase than do gasoline-powered vehicles. Yes, EVs do cost an average of $19,000 more than a gasoline vehicle right now. However, EVs will expand in appeal to consumers as legacy carmakers feel the pinch of raising their auto fuel efficiency standards from 43.3 miles per gallon for 2020 models to 52 miles per gallon for 2026 models.
That increase in mpg will require additional vehicle manufacturing costs, and, of course, the cost will be passed along to consumers.
Tesla Continues to Lead in News about Electric Vehicle Manufacturing
Tesla not only has the strongest brand recognition of all EV manufactures — it also had a 74% market share for all EVs sold in the 3 years prior to 2020 in the USA. The Model 3 and Model Y cars are the current top sellers in the US market.
And think of it: Tesla reached these sales levels even after the federal tax credit available to owners of Tesla cars expired in July 2018.
Tesla will reach scale soon, and its new battery chemistry is designed to reduce the price gap between its models and comps. Indeed, the “Gigafactory” label is a way of reinforcing how it is only when operating at a larger economy of scale that EV battery production truly become profitable.
The all-electric company plans to start production of Model Y at its Austin, Texas, manufacturing facility before the end of this year. The Fool projects that Tesla’s growth rate in vehicle deliveries looks poised to accelerate this year — the current quarterly production now exceeds 200,000 units, and deliveries could exceed 800,000 this year.
The company is in a constant state of innovation, too. Tesla is constantly filing new — 580 at last count — patents that are always exploring ways to increase its vehicles’ functions and driving ease.
Looking to Lithium-Ion Battery Production Escalation
Bloomberg projects that passenger EV sales will rise sharply from 3 million in 2020 to 66 million in 2040, so that, globally, EVs will represent more than two-thirds of passenger vehicle sales in 2040.
Europe and China are leading the transition. In those regions, charging spots more than doubled in 2 years. In Europe, battery EVs are approaching price parity with ICE vehicles. China is benefiting from its world leadership in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.
Indeed, the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to grow from $40.5 billion in 2020 to $91.9 billion by 2026, as demand for electric vehicles, battery energy storage, and electronics continues to ramp up.
Lithium battery growth is a part of US national plans to evolve and decarbonize the energy and transportation sectors, too, as evidenced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) making $200 million in funding available to support the full value chain of batteries, from raw materials to end-user products such as EVs and battery storage systems.