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Automakers urge U.S. support for EV charging, R&D, incentives

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A major automotive trade association on Tuesday urged U.S. policymakers to back sweeping support for electric vehicles (EV), including new incentives for research and development and consumer purchases.

President-elect Joe Biden has made boosting electric vehicles a top priority and pledged to build 550,000 new EV charging stations. He also supports new tax credits for consumer purchases and retrofitting factories for EV production.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the auto trade group representing General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co and nearly all major automakers, called in a report released Tuesday for a series of steps to boost the EV market and to revamp regulatory oversight of self-driving vehicles.

John Bozzella, the group’s chief executive, in an interview argued “the future of the industry” is at stake as it spends heavily on electric and self-driving vehicles.

The technologies “will redefine motor vehicle transportation for decades,” the alliance said in its report.

Congress has debated legislation to speed up adoption of self-driving cars and new incentives for EVs but has not approved either.

Automakers face significantly tougher emissions rules under Biden and the industry is split over whether to continue backing President Donald Trump’s efforts to bar California from setting vehicle emissions rules. California Governor Gavin Newsom said in September he wants the state to bar the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035.

Automakers invest about $26 billion annually in R&D in the United States.

The alliance backs “enhancing R&D incentives over the next 3-5 years” and “facilitating and expanding access to capital to support” the industry’s transformation over that period, it said in the report.

Automakers also back new incentives to transition factories to building cleaner vehicle technologies.

The group said China “has already established EV battery supply chain and manufacturing dominance” and noted China is also moving aggressively to develop automated vehicles.

During his election campaign, Biden said China was on pace to dramatically outpace the United States in EV production.

“We can own the electric vehicle market — building 550,000 charging stations — and creating over a million good jobs here at home — with the federal government investing more in clean energy research,” Biden said.

Last month, a group of major U.S. utilities, Tesla Inc, Uber and others launched a group to lobby for EV-friendly policies.

The alliance noted the auto industry is spending $250 billion by 2023 on EVs. Bozzella said additional incentives are needed to boost EVs current 2% U.S. market share.

It called for revising building codes to make EV charging easier and boosting government EV fleet purchases.

Under Trump, the White House rejected new tax credits for EVs as it proposed to kill existing credits and made it easier to sell gas-guzzling vehicles.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Robert Birsel)


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