In an Ominous Sign for Biden’s Climate Fight, Manchin Says He’s’very Hesitant’ About Electric Cars

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The idea of phasing out gasoline and diesel cars has been mocked by a centrist Democrat who holds a vital swing vote in the US Senate.

In the face of escalating gasoline prices, many Americans are considering switching to an electric vehicles. Senator Joe Manchin, however, has decried the shift away from fossil fuel vehicles, saying he is “extremely hesitant” to see the spread of battery-powered automobiles.

According to analysts, there has been a surge in interest in buying electric vehicles (EVs) as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, with drivers in the United States concerned about rising gasoline prices that have surpassed $4.30 per gallon as a result of the conflict and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.

Joe Biden has pushed for the growth of the embryonic electric vehicle market as a solution to address the climate crisis, citing America’s excessive reliance on polluting automobiles as a key source of climate-warming emissions.

However, Manchin, a centrist Democrat with a pivotal swing vote in the US Senate, has dismissed the idea of phased-out gasoline and diesel vehicles.

“I’m hesitant to go down the electric car path,” Manchin said at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “I was old enough to recall standing in line to purchase gas in 1974 — those were the days.” Because we’re now reliant on a foreign supply chain, namely China, I don’t want to have to wait in line for a battery for my vehicle.”

Manchin, who has received more campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests than any other senator, also claimed he has “a hard time understanding” why the federal government would invest in a network of electric car charging stations, as the Biden administration plans.

“I’ve read history, and I recall Henry Ford designing the Model T, but I don’t recall the United States government constructing filling stations,” Manchin added to applause. “The market took care of it.”

The senator from West Virginia’s remarks is concerning for the White House’s aspirations of passing big climate legislation this year. The climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act, which has been stuck due to Manchin’s opposition, featured a half-trillion dollars in renewable energy tax credits and significant incentives for electric car purchases to encourage their adoption.

In an Ominous Sign for Biden's Climate Fight, Manchin Says He's'very Hesitant' About Electric Cars (1)
In an Ominous Sign for Biden’s Climate Fight, Manchin Says He’s’very Hesitant’ About Electric Cars

Manchin’s remarks come as car dealers report a surge in consumer interest in electric vehicles, as some Americans seek to avoid the global oil market’s instability entirely. According to Edmunds, a car buying and industry analysis website, the number of persons searching online for hybrid and battery electric vehicles has increased dramatically in the last month.

According to Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Edmunds’ insights, this is a continuation of the broader growth of EVs in recent years, “although the significant surge in interest of late is undoubtedly more of a reaction to record gas prices triggered by the situation in Ukraine.”

“Anecdotally, we’re hearing a lot about a heightened interest in EVs because of what’s going on in Ukraine,” said Ed Kim, president of AutoPacific, an auto industry research group. “But the real test is whether it will endure,” he added.

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Gas-powered cars developed in the United States, according to Kim, already have a lot of foreign-made parts. “I feel Joe Manchin has a strong interest in downplaying sustainable energy since he represents West Virginia, which is heavily reliant on coal,” Kim added.

“Look at what’s going on right now: because of geopolitical difficulties, we’re witnessing fuel costs that haven’t been seen in years.” Any steps we take to lessen our dependency on petroleum are beneficial to our economy, the environment, and ensuring that the country does not grind to a halt.”

Sales of battery-powered and hybrid automobiles have risen in response to previous increases in gasoline prices, such as in 2008, and analysts forecast a similar increase as a result of the current crisis. Last year, more than half a million electric cars were sold in the United States, up more than 80% from 2020, thanks to a slew of new models like Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and Telsa’s Model Y.

In an Ominous Sign for Biden's Climate Fight, Manchin Says He's'very Hesitant' About Electric Cars (2)
In an Ominous Sign for Biden’s Climate Fight, Manchin Says He’s’very Hesitant’ About Electric Cars

While established automakers such as Ford and GM are now investing heavily in the electric vehicle sector, demand is now routinely outstripping supply due to the pandemic, implying that the surge in interest in going electric may be short-lived. “Unfortunately, due to inventory limitations, purchasing an electric vehicle is not especially straightforward right now,” Caldwell added.

Although owning an electric automobile is significantly less expensive than owning a gas-powered car due to lower fuel costs and fewer mechanical issues, most EVs cost more than $40,000 upfront.

This means they are often out of reach for many low-income Americans who are already forced to spend a significant portion of their salary on operating a vehicle to get to work and make other routine excursions due to the car-centric design of US cities and suburbia.

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By 2030, the Biden administration wants 50 percent of new automobile sales to be electric – last year, the overall proportion was under 3% – and industry analysts say significant investments will be required to meet this goal.

“Oil dependence is fueling some of the world’s most ruthless dictators today.” “There’s nothing in an EV that resembles the current national security, environmental, or humanitarian cost of oil,” said Atlas Public Policy founder Nick Nigro.

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“At this point, the move to electric vehicles is unavoidable; the timing is up to customers and legislators.” The events in Ukraine serve as a stark reminder of how volatile and dangerous reliance on oil can be, and they should only hasten this process.”

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