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Biden’s electric vehicle mandates give auto industry to China on a silver platter

OpinionBiden’s electric vehicle mandates give auto industry to China on a silver platter

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The Biden administration’s aggressive policy limiting auto tailpipe pollution, pushed through earlier this year to dramatically expand America’s electric vehicle market, threatens to hand control of America’s critical auto industry to the Chinese Communist Party. The Environmental Protection Agency’s electric vehicle mandates for cars and trucks will make the U.S. dangerously dependent on China for batteries and raw materials. 

The EPA’s recently finalized tailpipe emissions rule forces a rushed transition to electric vehicles, requiring 56% electric vehicle share and 16% hybrid share for new light and medium-duty vehicle sales by 2032, up from just 7.6% today. The administration is pushing a similarly rapid scale-up for heavy-duty trucks from the mere 5% that is electric today. These mandates will leave Americans at the mercy of CCP-controlled electric vehicle supply chains. 

China already dominates the global electric vehicle industry. In 2022, China accounted for 59% of worldwide electric vehicle sales. The Chinese government is aggressively cornering the market for electric vehicle batteries, which lean on critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, and graphite. China now controls more than 80% of the global rare earth elements — material critical for electric vehicle production. The Chinese government has weaponized this dominance, restricting exports of gallium and germanium last August, and causing prices in Europe to immediately spike.  

EPA SUED BY CONSUMER, MANUFACTURING, AGRICULTURAL COALITIONS OVER NEW VEHICLE EMISSIONS STANDARDS

The administration is contradicting its stated concerns about the Chinese threat. Despite classifying China as a “foreign entity of concern” and cutting subsidies for Chinese-made electric vehicle batteries in December, it now effectively outsources the enormous American auto industry to China through these mandates.  

President Joe Biden Electric Vehicles

President Joe Biden continues to promote mandates for electric vehicles, despite China’s growing dominance in the battery field. FILE: Biden makes his entrance on November 17, 2021, at General Motors’ Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Even as the White House opens an investigation into the national security risks of China obtaining sensitive data from connected car technologies, it is making America wholly reliant on Chinese electric vehicle technology. Beijing could exploit this dependency by hiking prices, restricting supplies and stealing data from electric cars. 

President Joe Biden’s focus on combating the most harmful impacts of climate change is laudable and necessary. The scientific consensus is clear that action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of global warming. The transportation sector is the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions, so accelerating the transition to cleaner electric vehicles is an essential part of any serious climate strategy.  

However, in the understandable urgency to confront the climate crisis, we cannot be blind to the serious national security risks of simply handing over control of a critical industry to our foremost geopolitical rival. 

Chinese investment in overseas electric vehicle battery plants and mineral extraction has exploded, surging from just $600 million in 2016 to a massive $24 billion in 2022. This enormous expenditure represented 58% of total Chinese foreign direct investment. With its state-directed approach, limitless subsidies and nonexistent environmental standards, China will happily supply the U.S. with cheap electric vehicle batteries and materials. 

The EPA’s new mandates will force Americans to rely on China for their daily transportation needs and leave the U.S. exposed to Chinese price gouging, political arm-twisting and crippling supply chain disruptions. Mandating such an accelerated shift from gas-powered autos to electric with no plan for building up domestic production capacity is reckless. 

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The Biden administration should immediately repeal these reckless electric vehicle mandates. 

This administration’s national security leaders recognize the holistic threat posed by China’s military, technology and critical capabilities. The fiscal year 2025 defense budget is largely arranged against Beijing’s capabilities in space, AI, cyber and long-range missiles.  

In a February White House statement, Biden declared: “China is determined to dominate the future of the auto market, including by using unfair practices. China’s policies could flood our market with its vehicles, posing risks to our national security. I’m not going to let that happen on my watch.” But the EPA’s new rules do precisely that. 

Even as the White House opens an investigation into the national security risks of China obtaining sensitive data from connected car technologies, it is making America wholly reliant on Chinese electric vehicle technology. Beijing could exploit this dependency by hiking prices, restricting supplies and stealing data from electric cars. 

The administration initially indicated it would slow the electric vehicle transition until 2030 but ultimately rammed through the original aggressive 2032 timeline. Instead of simply mandating a breakneck transition to electric vehicles and relying on Chinese supply chains, the administration should have first focused on building up a robust domestic electric vehicle manufacturing ecosystem.  

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This could include targeted investments and incentives for U.S. companies to develop cutting-edge electric and battery technologies, extract and process critical minerals and scale up production capacity. Unfortunately, the administration’s myopic focus on rushing electric cars to market at all costs has instead put America’s automotive future squarely in Beijing’s hands. 

Biden must immediately reverse the course on electric autos to live up to his tough talk on China. The administration must scrap the EPA’s mandates and instead focus on building secure, domestic, clean vehicle supply chains before forcing a catastrophic electric vehicle transition on American consumers and businesses.  

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