If Trump Is Elected President, The US EV Tax Credit Could Be Dead — And EV Production Will Drop

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I know, I know — it’s unfathomable that Donald Trump would be elected president again. That said, it was unfathomable that he’d be elected the first time, and he’s clearly winning the Republican nomination. As you might have seen, Nikki Haley just lost to “None of these candidates” in Nevada, where Trump wasn’t on the ballot.

Naturally, this presidential electric will influence cleantech massively. Joe Biden got enormous policies implemented supporting renewable energy and electric vehicles, and supporting reshoring of manufacturing jobs in the US to build batteries, solar panels, electric vehicles, etc. Donald Trump would probably unravel as many of those policies as possible. But we don’t have to speculate too much, because he has already made multiple anti-EV statements.

Plus, of course, we have Trump’s previous time as president, in which he worked repeatedly to hurt cleantech policies in the US and internationally.

And, while Musk let him back on Twitter, Trump and Musk have thrown barbs at each other in the past couple of years, and Musk supported some of his opponents in the primaries (RIP, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy).

But there nuances to what Trump could do to hurt EVs. A comment in a recent Tesla Motors Club forum thread explained this quite well:

This thread title and discussion are conflating two different things:

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act includes the well known EV tax credit along with loads of other subsidies/incentives for climate related products and technologies. This would require legislation to change, so it’s not something Trump could do on his own. But if Republicans hold control of the House and win back the Senate, they could get rid of EV tax credits via a reconciliation bill with a simple majority vote in the Senate (without needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster).

  2. And then there are corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards that the Biden EPA has proposed making significantly stricter over the coming years, to the extent that it would essentially force automakers to make a majority of their vehicle sales EVs by early next decade in order to comply with the new standards. Opponents have been referring to this proposed change to the CAFE standards as the “Biden EV Mandate”, even though it’s technically not a mandate, but it’s also not that far from the truth. If Trump gets elected, this is the part that he would be able to easily get rid of on his own since the EPA is part of the executive branch and the president appoints the EPA Administrator.

As noted above, Trump would need Republicans to control Congress (which they might) in order to completely kill the EV tax credit. Though, even without that, he could change the rules of the game a bit for the tax credit in a way that would effectively do the same.

CAFE standards are less interesting and less understandable to most people, but this is effectively how Trump could kill Biden’s supposed “EV mandate.” And this is a big deal. The US is already far behind the world. And, ironically, despite China and Europe copying some California and US policies to improve their transportation efficiency and cut emissions, they’ve both leapfrogged the US … and sprinted away. Both have much more robust, much more vibrant, much more successful EV industries, and that’s because their governments required that automakers stop messing around with the climate we all need for comfortable life on Earth and produce more efficient vehicles (like EVs). China BEV sales are now 25% of the country’s auto sales. In Europe, BEV sales are 16% of the auto market. In the US, BEV sales are 7% of the country’s auto sales. We are far behind, and without a doubt, Trump would put us behind further if given the power.

There are many other things to care about with this election, including the preservation of democracy in the United States, but when it comes to a matter we write about every day here on CleanTechnica — electric vehicles — there is one candidate who supports them and there is one candidate who will try to harm their growth — if not do something more draconian like try to ban them. And don’t say it’s inconceivable, as we’ve seen far more ridiculous things.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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