Donald Trump trashes electric cars and again shows he knows nothing about them

Donald Trump has talked about electric cars in a new interview, and as usual, he has decided to trash them and show that he doesn’t know much about them.

Disclaimer: we don’t like to get too political at Electrek. We are biased toward electric vehicles and we do like policies that encourage them, especially those that incentivize them in a way that represents their benefits for the environment. Since Trump has a real chance of becoming president again, it’s important to cover his views on electric vehicles.

Historically, the former president has been all over the place with his comments on electric vehicles.

Most of the time, in his rallies, he has brought them up as a talking point to ridicule them – focusing on the premise that “don’t go far” and “charging is a pain”. He went as far as calling them a “hoax”.

But he has also claimed that he is “all for electric cars” and during his 2020 campaign, he tried to take credit for incentives put in place during the Obama administration.

In practice, the former president was trying to put in place policies to slow down electric car adoption – at the request of some automakers, to be fair. The Trump administration attempted to eliminate the tax credit for electric vehicles in the original version of their 2020 budget, though the provision never passed.

Furthermore, Trump was actively seeking to roll back vehicle emission standards that were encouraging automakers to produce more electric cars.

Now, with the 2024 election approaching, and Trump being almost guaranteed to clinch the Republican primaries, he has again been commenting on electric vehicles.

In a new interview with CNBC yesterday, Trump started discussing electric cars when asked about Elon Musk:

The former president suggested that he is friends with Musk and that he “helped him” when he was president, and they mainly disagree about one “minor subject”: electric cars.

Trump continues:

“I’m all for electric cars but you have to have all of the alternatives also. First of all they don’t go far, they cost too much, and they’re all going to be made in China.”

The likely republican candidate went on to claim that the US electric grid cannot support the rise and electric vehicles. He goes as far as claiming that it is an impossibility to go all-electric:

“It’s not even a possibility to go all-electric.”

The president is seemingly not aware that electric vehicles largely charge at night when electricity production far outpaced demand. EVs are a great example of a “controllable load” that, in fact, can help strengthen the US grid – not weaken it.

Electrek’s Take

Despite EVs being my passion, I could potentially concede that electric cars are a “minor subject” for a president or candidate.

However, manufacturing and jobs are not a minor subject, and cars and weapons are among the last major things that America produces and exports.

If you want to former to remain the case, you need a strong EV industry in the US. That’s a fact. The industry globally is moving to electric vehicles as they, combined with renewable energies, are the solution to decarbonize the transportation sector.

That’s a fact, and America is falling behind.

Now, Trump is right that China is leading the way there, but I don’t see how this is a reason to slow down EV adoption in the US. On the contrary, you will let Chinese automakers run with the market.

The US needs a strong domestic EV market to support American automakers’ own EV production, and then it has a chance at competing on the global stage. I think that’s pretty straightforward.

As for EVs sold in the US being made in China, I think the IRA has been very useful in preventing that. There has been a record level of investment from automakers, including Chinese-backed automakers like Volvo and Polestar, to build factories in the US to produce EVs.

If that was a real concern for Trump, which he makes it sound like it was, he should thank the Biden administration which has already taken a protectionist approach on that front.

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