In the middle of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, on the brink of maybe the largest UAW strike in history, and embroiled in a somewhat messy electric vehicle production ramp-up nationwide, former President and Fulton County co-defendant Donald Trump took to social media to bash EVs and Biden in hopes of gaining UAW support for his 2024 presidential re-election campaign. On Truth Social, Trump posted this week that Biden administration policies will make it so “the Great State of Michigan will not have an auto industry anymore,” and pleaded “United Auto Workers, VOTE FOR TRUMP.”
The Trump campaign released a statement last week outlining Trump’s theoretical first day in office, including a “complete and total repeal of Biden’s catastrophic EV mandate.” There is not currently a national EV mandate in place, though the EPA has proposed a plan to require 67% of new cars sold to be zero emissions by the year 2032. The federal government, likewise, has issued a goal of 50% zero emissions new vehicles sold by 2030. Both are still under review, and neither can be considered a mandate.
For its part, the UAW has not yet endorsed a Biden re-election, and has called on the president to do more to protect union workers in the transition to electric propulsion. Likewise, the president of the United Auto Workers, Shawn Fain, has said that a second Trump term would be a “disaster.” Trump has not been popular with union workers, gaining the support of just about one-third of members during the 2020 election, a source told The Hill. Trump won Michigan in 2016, but lost the state to Biden by more than 155,000 votes in 2020.
It is no secret that President Biden has spent a lot of time and effort on electric vehicles, underlining union support in what he hopes will be a “just transition” ensuring jobs are created in communities dependent on fossil fuel vehicles. The Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act contained billions of dollars of consumer tax credits aimed at easing the hurdle to electric car ownership. The President has called for the automakers and the UAW to “work together to forge a fair agreement” though that’s obviously far easier to say than to actually do.
In a second post, Trump cautioned workers of the “giant ‘E GLUT’” and wrote he would “stop this Madness.” Continuing with a direct attack on Biden, typing “Mexico & Canada LOVE Biden’s idiotic policy. SAVE MICHIGAN and the other Auto States. SAVE THE AMERICAN CONSUMER!!!”
This outburst comes despite pledges from Stellantis, General Motors, and Ford to invest billions in electric and electrified production here in the U.S. Not to mention the dozens of other non-union factories churning out vehicles with plugs on U.S. soil. Automakers are committed to rapidly scaling EV production, and the UAW is not trying to resist the transition. Global adoption of EVs has been growing rapidly, with 19% of new car registrations in June being either battery-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. U.S. adoption has lagged significantly behind the rest of the world, as just about 7.2% of Americans are buying BEVs.
More than half of American auto buyers have stated that they’re interested in adding an electric car to their garage, and 53% of buyers say EVs will eventually replace ICE vehicles. It’ll take some time to get there, but the ball is certainly rolling in that direction.
Is an anti-EV stance the right one to help Trump win a presidency? It seems he’s fighting an uphill battle, doing little more than playing to his supporters who have made electrification, unions, and government protection of the environment political battlegrounds. Turning our backs on an electric future will only serve to alienate the rest of the world even further. If we simply sit back and allow China and Europe to control the global narrative on automotive propulsion, we’ll be stuck in the back seat and will see automotive exports grind to a halt.