Biden aims to juice EV sales, but would his plan work?

DETROIT (AP) — Dangling tax credits and rebates in his drive to fight climate change, United States (US) President Joe Biden wants you to trade your gas-burning car, truck or SUV for a zero-emissions electric vehicle (EV).

Some buyers would find his offer persuasive. Yet Biden’s goal is a daunting one: Even if Congress approves his USD2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, along with its incentives, it would take many years to replace enough internal combustion vehicles with EVs to make a huge dent in tailpipe emissions.

Right now, there are about 279 million vehicles on the road in the US. The proportion that are fully electric, according to IHS Markit, is 0.36 per cent. Of the 14.5 million new vehicles that were sold last year, two per cent were fully electric.

The Biden administration didn’t offer specifics on just how much car buyers would receive to trade in their vehicles. But it plans to spend USD174 billion over eight years on EVs. That figure includes incentives for consumers, grants to build 500,000 charging stations, and money to develop US supply chains for parts and minerals needed to make batteries.

“We’re going to provide tax incentives and point-of-sale rebates to all American families,” Biden said on Wednesday.

The biggest incentive likely will be expansion of the electric vehicle tax credit, now USD7,500, which is phased out after an automaker sells 200,000 battery-electric vehicles. Tesla and General Motors have exceeded the cap. Nissan is getting close.

An EVgo electric vehicle charging station is seen at Willow Festival shopping plaza parking lot in Northbrook, Illinois. PHOTO: AP