(Note: The writer is answering the question: “Is scrapping a $7,500 tax credit for electric car buyers a good idea?”)
TAMPA, Fla. — President Donald Trump can pound his chest for not only scrapping America’s participation in the Paris Climate Accord but also for killing the electric car.
The administration that favors further damage to the global ecosystem with its unbridled support for fossil fuels in their solid, liquid and gaseous forms saw Tesla buyers as the first to lose their $7,500 federal tax credit in January.
Tesla tried to make up for the financial body blow by reducing the price of its vehicles by $2,000, but for many potential Tesla customers, this year’s tax credit of $3,750 credit was the defining moment in the decision to buy a Tesla.
With no tax credit offered next year, many potential Tesla buyers will find the well-known electric vehicle far too costly to purchase — never mind their ideological commitment to a green planet.
The elimination of the federal electric vehicle tax credit represents another body blow to the clean and smart energy sector in the United States and a huge gift for the climate-damaging fossil fuel industry.
Even the might of General Motors, Tesla’s partner in manufacturing zero-emission vehicles, was not enough to fend off the fossil fuel interests who seem to have the Trump Administration in a vise grip.
The Tesla-GM partnership is a far cry from the 1990s, when GM manufactured an electric vehicle destined for failure in the eyes of the consumer. GM’s unpopular EV1 was a sacrificial lamb and GM’s ruse was featured in the 2006 documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”
Today, it is Donald Trump who wants to kill the new and more popular versions of the electric car. The next electric vehicles on the tax credit chopping block are the Chevrolet Bolt EV and models manufactured by Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Volvo, Daimler, BMW, Audi, Fiat-Chrysler and Honda.
The Trump administration’s policy on tax credits for zero-emission vehicles is another lesson in con-artistry. While Trump seeks to damage the zero-emission vehicle industry in the United States through pulling back tax incentives for potential buyers, China, the United Kingdom, India and Norway are pushing goals that envisage all electric vehicles on their roads in the not-so-distant future.
Trump has imposed tariffs on China that are as damaging to American farmers and manufacturers as they are to the Chinese. However, when it comes to advancing the Chinese electric vehicle battery industry, Trump said nothing as a Hong Kong-based firm, Frontier Services Group, established a $500 million investment fund to mine rare-earth and other vital minerals in Africa.
Such essential minerals, including include cobalt, molybdenum, manganese, aluminum, iron phosphate, nickel, copper, lithium, and columbite-tantalite, are required to manufacture lithium-ion and other batteries used in electric vehicles.
Not so coincidentally, Frontier Services Group is run by Blackwater mercenary company founder and Trump presidential campaign adviser Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary.
While the American electric vehicle industry is taking it on the chin from the Trump administration, his cronies stand to make a handsome profit from assisting the burgeoning Chinese electric vehicle industry, which hopes to see 39 percent of all Chinese drivers buying Chinese-made electric vehicles by 2030.
When it comes to adopting a trade policy that favors American manufacturers, Trump is asleep at the wheel, with financial advisers like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, economic advisers Larry Kudlow and Kevin Hassett, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shouting misleading directions into his ear.
The loss of federal tax credits for the electric vehicle have already prompted a drop-off in consumer interest. Some states, including California, are desperately trying to avoid a second kill-off of the electric car by offering tax credits at the point-of-sale.
While helpful, the states cannot hope to make up for the loss of the federal tax credit. The White House must wise up and do so fast.
Wayne Madsen is a progressive journalist whose columns have been published by leading American and European newspapers. Readers may write him at 415 Choo Lane, Valrico, Fl. 33595.