Attacks Mounted Against EVs in Europe, America Grow

October 6, 2023 11:13:18

Electric cars are coming under increasing heat from conservative politicians in the European Union as well as former U.S. president Donald Trump. Although the global community now agrees that replacing internal combustion engine cars with zero-emission electric vehicles is critical to achieving climate-change goals, the nascent EV industry has drawn the ire of many conservative politicians.

In the United States, calls for electrification brought back memories of cities such as Detroit nearly falling into ruin after the automotive industry left the city in the 1960s. Decades after the three big automotive companies left Detroit, the city is still struggling to regain a glimmer of its former shine. With millions of people in Europe and the U.S. working in the automotive industry, there are fears that a mass transition to electric cars could have untold economic consequences for numerous communities.

Trump has spent the past several months decrying the Biden administration’s “draconian and indefensible” EV policy, stating in a recent event held at a Michigan auto parts plant that ditching conventional vehicles for battery electric cars would result in massive unemployment and endless inflation. Trump argued that electric cars are too costly and are specifically designed for “very short trips,” alluding to the fact that long-distance journeys using EVs are often hampered by the nation’s insufficient public charging network. Some Republicans are also considering levying extra fees, legal restrictions and taxes against electric cars to make up for the revenue lost through gasoline taxes.

Over in Europe, climate policies are garnering increased public resistance as voters across the continent grapple with soaring energy prices and rising living costs. Italy’s Transport Minister Matteo Salvini recently condemned a proposed ban on internal combustion engines by the EU, calling it “job-destroying madness” that would only benefit China. Czech politician Alexandr Vondra has also denounced aggressive electric vehicle adoption policies in the regional bloc.

The lawmaker said that proponents behind more stringent limits on vehicle pollution were digging the grave of Europe’s automotive industry. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also extended the deadline for phasing out fossil fuel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, possibly to increase his public appeal as the election approaches. Antielectric vehicle sentiment seems to be spreading across the EU and America even as governments and automakers invest billions into electrification.

Most of the vitriol against electric cars is based on one argument: it will cripple labor markets in Europe and the U.S. while handing local jobs as well as national security to China. The East Asian nation currently has a monopoly on the mining and processing of EV battery metals as well as various rare earth metals with various critical operations, meaning the U.S. and the EU may have to rely on China to achieve their electrification goals in time.

This backlash is to be expected each time new technology emerges to disrupt an industry, so EV makers such as Workhorse Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WKHS) are unlikely to be fazed by criticism from conservative politicians and groups.

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