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Biden's Order Targets Half Of New Vehicles To Be Zero Emissions By 2030

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

What kind of car do you drive? And what's your gas mileage? Well, your answer may change in a few years under President Biden's new plan. The president signed an executive order with a target to get half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be zero-emission cars and trucks. At the White House yesterday, Biden said the goal is part of a race for the future.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: A future of the automobile industry that is electric battery electric, plug-in, hybrid electric, fuel-cell electric. It's electric. And there's no turning back. The question is whether we'll lead or fall behind in the race for the future.

MARTINEZ: His plan also includes stricter fuel economy and emission standards. So what does this mean for America's auto industry? John Bozzella is the president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the industry's leading lobbying group based in D.C. He's on the line. John, welcome.

JOHN BOZZELLA: Thank you.

MARTINEZ: All right. So are car companies ready to meet President Biden's goal for 2030?

BOZZELLA: You know, this is a significant challenge. It's, frankly, an enormous transformation. And I believe the companies are prepared to meet this challenge if we have the necessary public policies in place to support this transformation.

MARTINEZ: What kind of public policies would you need?

BOZZELLA: Yeah, three areas. One, we need to invest in public charging infrastructure to make sure that we have sufficient number of chargers to move the millions of vehicles from place to place that will be on the road by the end of the decade. Secondly, we need to make sure that we're providing consumers with incentives, things like tax credits, to support awareness and affordability and access to these technologies for every community. Thirdly, there is an opportunity for government policy to support the industrial transformation, to support research and development and to support the retooling of supply chains and to build battery factories going forward.

MARTINEZ: On that last one, retooling the industrial part of things - the Biden administration says this push toward electric vehicles will create manufacturing jobs. But, John, how do you ensure that current auto workers won't be, say, left behind as the industry transitions?

BOZZELLA: Yeah. This is a very important question. And I think that the most important thing we can do here is to make sure that we are establishing supply chains for these technologies here in the United States. We need to make sure, for example, that access to the appropriate raw materials, as well as components that go into batteries, are available here in the United States. And there is an important role for policy in doing that. And in addition to that, we have to make sure that we're working with the workforce to continue to develop the talent. This is a cutting-edge industry. And there's real opportunities for the workforce going forward.

MARTINEZ: You mentioned the infrastructure question a little while back. Who is that more on to provide leadership on? Is it on the automobile companies to kind of get that going so that their cars can be charged? Or is it on governments - local governments, the federal government - to provide that?

BOZZELLA: It's going to be everybody. We're going to need utilities to step up. Obviously, car companies are also partnering with the - on the development of infrastructure. But government plays a role here, especially with regard to public charging and also in - to help ensure that charging is distributed equitably and so that every community has an opportunity to participate in this revolution.

MARTINEZ: Now, China is the leader in the electric vehicle market. Also, about 70% of the world's electric vehicle batteries are made in China. How does our current dependence, John, on China maybe prevent the U.S. from reaching the president's goals?

BOZZELLA: Yeah. We have to make sure that we have access to resilient supply chains for battery components and raw materials here in the United States. If we don't do that, we will fall further behind China and, frankly, Europe, both of whom are investing in those supply chains. I think the Biden administration is well aware of this, as are members of Congress. But if you look at auto-grade semiconductors, that's kind of a cautionary tale. We could relive that if we don't invest in our supply chains for battery components here in the United States today.

MARTINEZ: Is that really the key part of all this, John? Because if that doesn't change, then maybe none of these goals can even be met, maybe not even a first step.

BOZZELLA: Look; I think it's really important to recognize that this goal is significant. And it's - again, it's a major transformation. This is why partnerships between industry and government are important and why every sector of the economy needs to participate in order for us to win and control our own destiny.

MARTINEZ: John Bozzella is the president of a lobbying group, Alliance for Automotive Innovation. John, thanks.

BOZZELLA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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