By Victor Reklaitis
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday pushed back on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s criticism of the Biden administration’s efforts to boost adoption of electric vehicles.
Speaking on Monday night at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, Musk had said President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social-spending and climate bill shouldn’t pass and government should “ just try to get out of the way .”
That bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, proposes a tax credit for EVs worth up to $12,500 . Part of that total — $4,500 — goes only to union-made vehicles assembled in the U.S. so Tesla, Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -0.32% and other companies with non-unionized workforces have complained in recent weeks. The Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +1.75% boss on Monday night also criticized a provision in a bipartisan infrastructure law that provides $7.5 billion for EV charging stations.
But Buttigieg, speaking at the same WSJ event on Tuesday morning, argued that while the auto market is going electric on its own, “there are three things that will not happen on their own.”
“One: For it to happen quickly enough to meet our climate challenges,” the Department of Transportation head said.
“Two: For it to happen in equitable terms that will actually reach the Americans who stand theoretically to benefit the most from EVs — low-income, urban Americans, rural drivers — but they only capture those benefits if they can afford to buy in the first place. And third, the importance of making sure that this electric-vehicle revolution is made in America and creating good-paying jobs. And, of course, we believe in the benefits of union jobs.”
Buttigieg continued: “These are things that don’t happen on their own. They require policy attention, and that’s part of our focus both in the charging network that is supported out of the infrastructure bill that the president signed, and the tax credits that will make these vehicles more affordable, that are proposed in Build Back Better.”
The former Democratic presidential hopeful said a $12,500 tax credit can buy down the cost of a $40,000 electric truck “into the high 20s,” and that means “millions of more Americans who can get in on the electric-vehicle revolution.”
This report was first published on Dec. 7, 2021.