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    Biden Push for Electric Cars: $ 174 Billion, 10 Years and a Bit of Luck

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    President Biden is a muscle-car man – one of his most prized possessions is the 1967 Corvette that he inherited from his father. But he is trying to make it an electric vehicle world.

    The $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan unveiled on Wednesday is intended to encourage Americans to switch to cars and trucks with up to $ 174 billion in tackling climate change, not on gasoline or diesel, but on electricity Let’s go. This is a big investment but it is not enough to push most Americans towards EVs.

    Despite rapid growth in recent years, electric vehicles remain a niche product, accounting for just 2 percent of the new car market and 1 percent of all cars, sport-utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks on the road. They have been slow to unload in large part because they can cost up to $ 10,000 more than similar conventional cars and trucks. EVs are also more difficult to charge and are slower than simply refilling tanks at more prevalent gas stations.

    Mr. Biden hopes to address many of those challenges through a federal streak. He The cost of electric vehicles is to be reduced by giving tax credits, rebates and other incentives to individuals, businesses and governments. To solve the chicken-and-egg problem by getting people to try new technology before it is widely accepted, he hopes to make half a million chargers by 2030 so that people will be confident when they They will not be trapped if they come out. And it is offering to help automakers to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries in the United States.

    “We find ourselves in a unique moment where most American businesses and many states are looking towards a fragmented future, but there is a big lift in the direction of infrastructure,” Bob Pericep, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions Said, Environmental Research Group. “This investment obviously won’t solve the climate problem or fix all the infrastructure in the United States, but it will be a major boost.”

    The automaker sees the writing on the wall and many, including General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford Motor, have made big EV promises. But even they accept that they will need federal help.

    The image
    Credit …Lindsay D’Adto for The New York Times

    “This change is more than any one policy, branch or level of government, industry or industry sector,” a group representing manufacturers, suppliers and automotive workers said in a letter on Monday. “This will require a more holistic approach with a wide range of legislative and regulatory policies rooted in economic, social, environmental and cultural realities.”

    The letter called for grants, loans, tax credits and tax cuts to promote research and manufacturing. The authors of the letter, which included industry groups and the United Auto Workers Union, called for investing in job training programs and federal help to promote the development of minerals and other raw materials in the United States.

    But production is only one piece of the puzzle. The transition away from gas-powered vehicles rests on convincing consumers of the benefits of electric vehicles. This is not easy, as cars sticker prices are higher, even though researchers say they cost less. Electricity is cheaper on a per-mile basis than petrol, and EVs require regular maintenance – there is no oil to replace compared to cars with combustion engines.

    The biggest cost of an electric car comes from a battery, which can run about $ 15,000 for a midsize sedan. Costs have fallen and are expected to fall largely thanks to manufacturing improvements and technological advances. But some scholars believe that to make electric cars much cheaper would require a major technological breakthrough.

    “There is a good sense that they are either falling for at least the next five years, but then are they going to stop or are they going to fall?” Joshua Lynn, a professor at the University of Maryland and a senior partner for Future with Resources, an environmental nonprofit, said of the costs of the battery. “This will not be enough, so there is a lot of attention to infrastructure then.”

    The federal government and some states already provide tax credits and other incentives for the purchase of electric cars. But the main such federal incentive – a $ 7,500 tax credit for the purchase of new electric cars – began phasing out for the cars after an automaker sold 200,000 EVS buyers of Tesla and GM electric cars, for example, now this tax credit Ford and Volkswagen electric car buyers do.

    Mr Biden described his incentive for electric car purchases as discounts available at the “point of sale”, which is likely meaningful at dealerships or when ordering cars online. But the administration has not released details about how big discounts they will give and which vehicles they will apply to.

    Another major concern is charging. People with dedicated parking spots usually charge their EVs at home overnight, but many people who live in apartments or have to drive long distances are required to use public charging stations, which right now There are also many more by gas stations.

    “The top three reasons for consumers not to buy EVs are the lack of charging station, time to charge, and cost of EVS,” said Sam Abulesimid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “They are really emphasizing all three. Therefore, it is very promising. “

    There are more than 100,000 gas stations in the United States, with many pumps. According to the Department of Energy, Mr. Biden’s plan calls for a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers within a decade, up from nearly 41,000 charging stations with more than 100,000 outlets today.

    “One of the things that needs to be addressed is getting chargers in places where people only have street parking, such as in cities and urban areas where you don’t have a driveway or garage,” Mr. Abelsamid he said. “If they can detect it, then EVs will be available to a lot more people.”

    The government of China, leading the world in the use of electric cars, has done much more than the United States to speed up the installation of chargers.

    “It’s famous, one of the ways that China has become the No. 1 country in EVS on most dimensions,” John Paul McDuffie, an professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said in an email.

    With incentives for manufacturers, a strong charging network and a ready public, the transition to electric cars may take a few decades. The car manufacturer has improved the reliability of the vehicle in recent years, so many cars stay on the road for a long time. According to economic forecasting company IHS Markit, the average age of cars and light trucks in the United States is close to 12 years from 9.6 years in 2002.

    Neil E. Baudette Contributed to reporting.

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