By on April 28, 2021

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) has informed a Senate Commerce subcommittee on transportation that the Biden Administration’s penchant for electric vehicles is starting to get under its skin. The union is recommending that the United States avoid setting any timeline for the proposed banning of internal combustion vehicles because it might cost a staggering number of jobs.

Ann Wilson, MEMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, said vehicle restrictions were unrealistic before 2040 and would obliterate entire segments of the auto industry without providing concrete assurances that the environment would be improved. While the latter claim can be argued endlessly, the former is pretty difficult to refute. 

This is something anyone paying attention to the automotive sector could have seen coming from miles away.  As manufacturers began praising EVs for their simplicity and noting how they used far fewer moving parts than their gasoline or diesel equivalents, suppliers should have been asking themselves if the fuel injectors they produce will have a place in an electrically driven society.

But the answer is obviously no. Electric cars generally require fewer components and less labor to manufacture and will undoubtedly result in major changes for the workforce. MEMA estimated losing 30 percent of the supplier industry’s traditional workforce if the United States transitioned over to EVs. That’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of good-paying jobs. In 2020, a study by the National Platform for the Future of Mobility (NPM) informed the German government that 410,000 jobs connected with the automotive industry could be lost by the end of this decade under the nation’s current trajectory. American losses would be substantially worse.

MEMA is recommending a mixed approach where manufacturers can continue making ICE’s more efficient while developing hybrid and battery-electric models to a point where they will naturally overtake fuel-burning automobiles as the dominant mode of transportation. It’s still targeting a zero-emissions future, just one that doesn’t require placing massive restrictions on the industry.

Automakers, who stand to benefit from having to pay fewer assembly workers and equipment manufacturers, are more willing to embrace electrification and many have already set targets for ditching products requiring fuel tanks. But it’s not clear how much of that is for show. While digitizing cars plays into the industry’s obsession with monetizing driver data, electrification doesn’t seem profitable in the short term without government help and it seems to shift an incredible amount of the auto sector’s power over to battery companies and energy concerns. We’ve been under the impression that some of the largest manufacturers put on a pro-EV face and frequently support government initiatives just to avoid ruffling feathers and getting slapped with regulations.

While completely ridiculous, appeasement is a fairly common practice with plenty of recent examples. Pipefitting unions backed Joe Biden for president, despite his vow to stop production on the Keystone XL pipeline and put members out of work. So did the United Mine Workers of America, with its leadership embracing a federal energy plan that prohibits coal mining last week. Union boss Cecil Roberts even admitted that it would probably cost the industry jobs but that it was important to be part of the “conversation” and ensure the environmental wellbeing of the planet.

Meanwhile, China is on pace to build several hundred new coalfired energy facilities over the next ten years and shares our air.

UAW leadership, which traditionally endorses Democrat candidates, also backed the Biden administration. But members have been hypercritical of the push toward electrification for years and it’s been a common talking point whenever they go on strike. We’ve only seen this swell with worker’s unions around the world gradually starting to rally around the issue — though it always seems to be the highest-ranking members that are the last to join the cause.

States have also been taking sides, with roughly a dozen governors promising to adopt the Californian proposal to end the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. However they are not just attempting to prohibit sales within their own borders, they would ideally like to see the federal laws put into place that would create national restrictions.

“The U.S. is in danger of losing our competitive edge due to a lack of clear national policies” said Wilson. “For the U.S to be a leader in automotive innovation and transportation, we must work collaboratively to develop a comprehensive national vision and strategy.”

MEMA’s testimony is available here.

[Image: Vlad Kochelaevskiy/Shutterstock]

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80 Comments on “Auto Suppliers Just Realized EVs Will Cost Them Jobs...”


  • avatar
    steve1

    I’m sure the horse buggy industry had the same feelings 100 years ago. The truth is that china is already moving full steam ahead on EVs and other emerging technologies. If we want to lose our technological prowess, then we should focus on old tech such as ICE. It’s a tough pill to swallow but I’m hoping many of these workers could go into EV production, clean tech, carbon recapture or something relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      It’s a complicated issue and we cannot assume any industry will be evergreen. But don’t forget that China is going to be powering its glut government mandated EVs using all those new coal plants it has been building.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Matt, this is embarrassingly limp even as the obvious clickbait it is.

        First, to suggest that automotive suppliers “just” realized their industry will be gutted by EV’s is an insult to their intellect.

        Second, serious people won’t “argue endlessly” whether EVs will ultimately be cleaner than internal combustion engine vehicles. I love a good engine or I wouldn’t be here on a car nut site, but it’s inevitable that as renewables become ever cheaper than fossil fuel extraction and consumption, EV power will continue to naturally evolve toward being ever cleaner and ever cheaper by comparison. Denying that provable reality is… just that, denial.

        And as for you waving the bloody shirt of the Chinese: Yes, China is building coal plants. China is also investing massively in solar. And China is aware that it’s choking on the fumes of its own industry. Again, the economics of fuel cost have made this decision. Only the death grip (literally) that the fossil fuel industry has over government is postponing its inevitable implementation. And that’s not even accounting for oil’s declining supply (unless you also want to pretend there’s an “endless argument” about that reality, too).

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          I’m skeptical about the way the electric revolution is being handled, not trying to convince everyone that efficiency won’t continue to improve in both EVs and ICEs. Planned economies almost never work and forcing EVs down everyone’s throat at the taxpayer’s expense before the logistics are figured out (or they are directly comparable to similarly priced gas burning cars) doesn’t seem like an intelligent solution.

          I don’t care about maintaining the petrodollar or even living in a carbon neutral future (which I know is sacrilege). I am only interested in sniffing out industrial/regulatory bullshit and making sure people who make less than $100,000 a year can afford to drive the kind of car they want. If we can maintain some old jobs while we swap over to the “green” ones that allegedly pay great, even better.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Pushing EV technology too fast is a recipe for disaster. The government needs to stick with funding research and facilitating better infrastructure. Then let market forces act as a speed governor for adoption.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Matt, that “sacrilege” comment is condescending. But more important, it’s somewhere between abjectly ignorant (if you really don’t know better, which I suppose is perfectly possible) and outright sociopathic (if you do).

            We’d have to wildly exceed the targets of the Paris Accords to even achieve a carbon-neutral future. And if we don’t start doing something more meaningful than we’re doing now, well, “maintaining some old jobs” is gonna take a back seat to the annihilation of life on earth (or as you might say, the supply of skilled workers to fill existing jobs).

            If you’ve never read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (really!), do so. Seriously. You might accidentally learn something.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Replying to tomLU86: Yes, electric cars are being subsidized. And the oil and gas industries are being subsidized much more massively, as they’ve been for generations—including the indirect subsidy of allowing them to create massive environmental costs they’re basically not held accountable for.

            Capitalism is not perfect, and one of its imperfections is that one can take actions that create both a reward and a cost, keep the reward for yourself and toss the cost onto everybody else. If you’re going to attack a move away from fossil fuels on cost-based grounds, be even-handed about it.

        • 0 avatar
          dantes_inferno

          >but it’s inevitable that as renewables become ever cheaper than fossil fuel extraction and consumption,

          The environmental impact of mining for raw material to create batteries somehow got lost in the translation.

          Those who are truly concerned about the environment should focus their energies promoting the development and widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Otherwise touting battery-powered EVs as the end-all-be-all of preserving the environment amounts to nothing more than a feel-good, short-sighted solution lacking substance.

          • 0 avatar
            tomLU86

            As with other issues, the EV discussion on the MSM is very one-sided. Even here at times, it seems that way.

            Half-truths are not the truth.

            Batteries contain toxic chemicals. Bigger EV batteries will contain more of them.

            EVs currently need to be subsidized on many levels. Those subsidies are more obvious (tax credits on EV cars, and now, having the Fed’s build charging stations. ICE needed neither)

            If EVs are such a good idea, they should make it on their own.

            EVs ARE a lead-in to autonomous vehicles. AV is a lead-in to either “more rational use of transportation” or “less freedom of mobility and more government control over where you can go and when”, depending on your perspective. GM, Apple, Google, etc, would like nothing more than to not only deliver you with “zero accidents, zero emissions, zero deaths”, but also to monetize your time in your AV.

            AVs will be rather expensive. People used to paying an average transaction price of $40k for a new vehicle today are not going to be able to make the jump to buy a $300k AV.

            AVs also address the electric dilemma–think of a driverless Uber that goes to home base as needed to add some charge to battery between trips.

            Matt P says he is concerned that “people making under $100k a year can afford to drive the kind of car they want”. He has good reason to be.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Whatever State Media is pushing, simply believe the opposite. I know President Trump embraced the phrase “fake news” as his own, but I’m not sure who actually first coined it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were State Media apparatchiks because the name itself it a misnomer. They don’t parrot “fake” news, they tell half truths and deliberately hold back facts in order to create a narrative or push an agenda. Anything they say has been crafted to suit a purpose, do the opposite at all times.

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      When we transitioned from horse and buggy to autos was it because autos were better? Or did one political party push a control agenda by telling the world that horses and buggies were causing climate change? Their argument would have been pushed by every newspaper in the country but one. The timing was much closer to the mini ice age so they could have capitalized on that. Did they take taxpayer money and give it to wealthy auto buyers at the time? Do tell.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “A new study by the universities of Exeter and Cambridge in the UK and Nijmegen in the Netherlands has concluded that electric cars lead to lower carbon emissions overall, even if electricity generation still relies on fossil fuels.”
        This was in Forbes magazine.

        Looks like another unbiased piece from Posky.

        • 0 avatar
          4runner

          The University of Exeter has a rich history in studying emissions.

          https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/research/title_393168_en.html

          https://nypost.com/2017/10/27/sniffing-your-partners-farts-could-help-ward-off-disease/

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        KC, there’s no polite way to put this, but I’ll try: Your post is embarrassingly propagandized and reason-free.

        For your argument to make any sense, you’d have to believe that automobiles were NOT a contributor to climate change. If you care to make that case, I feel part annoyed at your denial and part sorry for you that you can’t face the future that your party is determined to destroy for the temporary profit of a few plutocrats—billionaires who, I’m sorry to tell you, aren’t going to share a penny of their windfall with you as the world burns and they retreat into plush Eastern European bunkers they’ve already furnished for themselves (if you don’t believe me on that, look it up).

        • 0 avatar
          NigelShiftright

          @tonycd –

          “the future that your party is determined to destroy for the temporary profit of a few plutocrats”

          Plutocrats, schmootocrats.

          My “future” includes driving my personal vehicle whenever I want, wherever I want, and as often as I want. And it includes reliable 24/7 electricity and HVAC for my 3000 square foot house. All of these things to be available at a non-exorbitant cost.

          I don’t really care if the CEO of the company who does these things makes a million, or ten million, or a billion. As long as he can deliver the product at an affordable price.

        • 0 avatar
          kcflyer

          So if i make my case i’m “in denial”. Right. How very Biden of you. While your out could you find me just one climate model more than 30 years old that accurtely predicted temperature changes? Were we all in denial in the 70s and early eightys when your tribe was predicting a man made ice age was coming?

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Here’s someone more than 30 years ago who knew, kc.
            https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

        • 0 avatar
          tomLU86

          @tonyCD.

          “Capitalism is not perfect, and one of its imperfections is that one can take actions that create both a reward and a cost, keep the reward for yourself and toss the cost onto everybody else.”

          Very well said! I commend you for pointing this out! Most people don’t see it.

          That’s why we need anti-pollution laws, for example.

          That’s why Barack Obama, and a bi-partisan majority bailed out Wall Street in 2009–to ensure that big money stayed rich, with some crumbs going to Main Street.

          The plutocrats own both parties. The Republicrats are like dogs–just because you own the dog, it may not always behave as you like. But ultimately, the owner decides where the dog goes, what it eats, and if it lives.

          Regardless of how one feels about Trump, the fact is plutocrats and elite hate him because he was NOT on their leash, and pulled out all the stops to topple him–at any cost. He was rich, but not one of the elite.

          IMO, had he been reelected, and there is a good chance he was, he would have made some of the same mistakes Biden is making–but Biden’s deficit spending is on a bigger order of magnitude–but certainly not made many others that pose serious threats to the future of the USA.

          But I digress..

          You mention subsidies to the oil/gas industry. Others have said the same. I grant you that. Again, I would ask, why should they get subsidies? If the result of no subsidies are higher prices for fuel for the public, so be it. Use less, give up something, or find a (legal) way to make more money to pay for it.

          If there were no subsidies for either oil/gas industry, or electric vehicles, I would be fine with that. Let individuals decide on their transportation based on what they like, or what works best for them.

          America is chock full of subsidies–that benefit certain people in particular and are sold under the pretense that they “benefit many”. The subsidies are ultimately paid for by no one in particular and everyone in general. Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree. Or tax “everyone” with inflation.

          The Feds (aka the tax-PAYING public) subsidize some mortgages directly (FHA, VA). They subsidize most mortgages with the tax deductions for interest. This allows people to buy more house–and distorts the market

          Nearly half of all Americans don’t pay income taxes, thanks to subsidies. The top 1% pay lower rates, thanks to “the law”. So the middle class and upper middle class who are not self-employed pay for everything for everyone. And it’s not enough….

          As to the horse vs car, the car was an overall plus at the time for the cities. They were drowning in horse sh*t in the streets. Great for spreading disease like cholera. The dirty smelly cars got the sh*t off the streets, and put smoke and carbon monoxide in the air. A good trade-off for many. They were also were more efficient in that they used oil vs hay as fuel, a more compact, they went farther and faster, and freed up people’s time to do other things, or gave people a mobility they lacked before. So automobiles had many benefits at the time.

          The EV is being sold as “pollution free”. What other benefit does it offer? It needs an electric powerplant, and wind and solar are not reliable. Many don’t want nukes (with good reason). So that leaves use with fossil fuel power plants that do pollute, and emit CO2.

          I believe the EV case consists of half-truths.
          Probably the real motive is for EVs is to get people to drive less, or get them out of their cars or trucks altogether.

          And once the EV does that, and people lose their mobility, and we are awash in toxic battery chemicals and rationed electricity, if we still have elected govt, it will be “wait for the transporter, just like Star Trek, it’s coming..”

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “When we transitioned from horse and buggy to autos was it because autos were better? Or did one political party push a control agenda by telling the world that horses and buggies were causing climate change?”

        Horse manure was an environmental problem in the 19th century:

        https://99percentinvisible.org/article/cities-paved-dung-urban-design-great-horse-manure-crisis-1894/

        https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Great-Horse-Manure-Crisis-of-1894/

        https://fee.org/articles/the-great-horse-manure-crisis-of-1894/

        The last link argues that “the problem solved itself” when new technology (in the form of ICE automobiles) replaced horses. And yet, a century later, we face similar issues due to the prevalence of ICE automobiles.

        The analogy is obvious. History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Let’s solve this problem for another 100 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Stop beating the dead horse and buggy trope.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True it was the same for the horse and buggy industry and it will be the same for ICE. Some buggy and wagon makers like Studebaker transitioned to cars but eventually even Studebaker went away. EVs are starting to look better with more vehicle manufacturers going to turbo I3s and I4s and CVTs and multi gear automatics to meet more stringent mileage and emission standards. There will be many new jobs created in the clean technology.

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      What will those many new jobs be, Jeff?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        That’s the problem.

        ON AVERAGE, a society does better when it becomes more efficient through trade or technology increases.

        But, particular people, cities, and industries can end up worse off — even if the society is doing better on average. The several hundred million people who pay less for car maintenance (in this case) will have more money to spend on other things, even if Detroit becomes (even more of) an economic wasteland.

        After reflecting on this, a strong social safety net is the way we can benefit from economic-efficiency cake without f*cking anyone over too hard. I’m OK with being taxed to provide housing, food, healthcare, and education to people who lose jobs as a result my move to an economically-efficient sci-fi future.

        As the man said, let’s get to work. That work includes taking care of Americans who have been f*cked over by a changing economy.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I’m for retraining displaced workers into new fields as theirs goes away. If you have to pay them during the process, so be it. I am not for simply shrugging our shoulders and sying “Ah well, lets just pay them for the rest of their lives”

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “For the rest of their lives” should definitely not be the goal.
            Something like UBI/enhanced unemployment during the training period (let’s say up to 3 years) plus some carrot/stick policies on who the “green collar job” companies hire would be acceptable.
            I think I’d also move down the 100% social security date by three years for people close to retirement age in the impacted industries.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Jeff S

      “EVs are starting to look better with more vehicle manufacturers going to turbo I3s and I4s and CVTs and multi gear automatics to meet more stringent mileage and emission standards.”

      If one wasn’t worried about being called a conspiracy theorist one could suggest that those “more stringent mileage and emission standards” were motivated to push us into EV’s by strangling ICE. (And, of course, push a lot of money into certain people’s pockets.)

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    If EVs are so great why do they need government intervention (regulations or tax credits) in order to sell them? Why cant the government and EV manufacturers just allow the market to drive sales? Oh, that’s right it’s not about the environment it’s about control.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @wolfwagen: I agree. Look at Tesla’s sales since they lost their subsidy. They’re doing fine. Where I live, it seems like you see a Tesla in traffic every 5 minutes. As EVs evolve, the prices get below ICEs, and the infrastructure improves, I don’t see how ICE cars will be able to compete.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “As EVs evolve, the prices get below ICEs”

        Prior to Planet Covidian Nissan could put out a Versa for $12,995, albeit it was garbage, but it could be done. I’d love to see a similar EV sh!tbox for 10K new, don’t see it happening whether by economic forces or artificial means. The agenda is clear, only the Chinese can have a burgeoning middle class you Americans have to drop to Third World living standards. No cars, no meat, no independent opinions, no freedom, no future.

        • 0 avatar
          turbo_awd

          And plant based beer too!

          /s

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          “No cars, no meat, no independent opinions, no freedom, no future.”

          But, we’ve been assured that synthetic meat will be just as tasty:-)

          Another couple hundred days like this admin’s first 100 days and everything will be fixed but good. As long as he doesn’t get writer’s cramp signing all those royal edicts.

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        RE mcs
        Tesla is unprofitable without sale of emissions credits.
        Less than 2% of registered motor vehicles in California are EV.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Tesla is unprofitable without sale of emissions credits”

          That’s not true. Without the emission credits, they could be profitable by either raising the prices of the cars or not building two mega-factories at the same time. Those factory investments include manufacturing technology that lowers production costs and battery manufacturing facilities. Tesla is also branching out beyond auto manufacturing into pharmaceuticals with their RNA Bioreactors. That cost money to develop as well and will pay off later.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The profit could be put in a barrel on set on fire, it’s still profit regardless of what happens after, like reinvesting, giving to charity, feeding a coke habbit, or god forbid paying taxes on it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Your accurate and independent thought has earned you a free trip to the re-education camp.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “If EVs are so great why do they need government intervention (regulations or tax credits) in order to sell them?”

      Because the economies of scale are just being established.

      Once the economies of scale no longer favor the incumbent technology, then EVs will beat the snot out of ICE vehicles in the marketplace in every possible way.

      The raw materials required to build an EV is are cheaper than the ICE vehicles, the problem is building factories which turn raw materials into batteries efficiently (in economic terms). When it comes to factories, bigger is more efficient. Once those big battery factories are built, EVs will become cheaper than ICE vehicles — and most people will prefer the EV if all other things are equal.

      If you don’t believe me, go test-drive a Tesla. Then realize that we’re just at the beginning of the part where we make batteries (and the whole vehicle) cheaper.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Eventually even China will get away from coal. There are other sources of cleaner energy that can be used to generate electricity such as hydro and nuclear. Natural gas is cleaner except for fracking. Not advocating doing away with coal for now but eventually coal will go the way of whale oil that was once used for lamps and replaced by kerosene. Also improving the battery technology for EVs that make batteries smaller, less expensive, and longer range. If better batteries are developed not using rare Earth materials. Better and more affordable batteries would also allow for storage of electricity produced by wind and solar. More infrastructure for charging would make EVs more viable for most.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s easy to go with the “horse and buggy” line when it isn’t your job on the line. I think there should be a medium-term UBI for certain industries baked into most climate legislation.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @ajla- that’s true but it’s going to get worse for anyone in an unskilled job. Technology, regardless where it is applied, reduces jobs.
      I used to know many working in the lumber industry in mills and logging. The only guys I know now in the industry are skilled technicians, equipment operators, or well educated managers. There are very few unskilled jobs left.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My stance is that while both situations require a level of assistance, there is a distinction between job loss due to automation or market changes and job loss due to a government explicitly pushing for your industry’s contraction or elimination.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Lou_BC, I’d put it differently. We have seen that automation reduces jobs in any location where it is applied. Overall, though, technology creates more jobs than it destroys. They’re different jobs, in different places, and they of require greater skills than those that were needed to do the jobs being destroyed by automation.

        The challenge for our society is ensure that the unskilled and semi-skilled workers who are displaced by automation have a viable path forward. Which is difficult, so political interests have not wanted to face it.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “It’s easy to go with the “horse and buggy” line when it isn’t your job on the line. I think there should be a medium-term UBI for certain industries baked into most climate legislation.”

      Agreed.

      This is why we need a strong social safety net, so the buggy whip workers don’t get f*cked over too hard.

      The EV future is coming, whether we like it or not — and whether it’s manufactured in the USA or in China.

      So, what do we do?

      Build the EV factories and reap the rewards, but also adopt social policies that will care for the displaced workers. The sink-or-swim mentality we’re so proud of in American culture does not seem like a good fit for this time of rapid technological change.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have gone thru job transitions as well the last major one being the deregulation of oil prices in 1981. I was 1 of 200 people laid off in the company I worked for. Putting something additional into climate change legislation for those displaced by EVs would make sense. Transitioning from ICE to EVs is similar to the transition from horse and buggy to cars and trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I agree with the UBI comments as a humane transition step. In the longer term, America’s employment picture will be well served if we reprise the Japan Inc. auto industry success story of betting on green energy and its associated industries so we can be internationally competitive in them (which, right now, we mostly aren’t because our fossil fuel companies have blocked it).

      What I just described might sound like common sense, and it is. It’s also the general policy goal that’s been widely ridiculed and shoved out of the public debate as the “Green New Deal.” Guess what: Just as on healthcare, the despised Sanders is right on the economics as well as the humanity of the issue.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    There was a similar uproar in the late ’70s when engines moved for 8 cylinders to 6 and 4; from Holly carburetors to fuel injection; from cars at 3 1/4 tons to 2 tons; etc.

    Things that will survive are tires, HVAC components, upholstery, sheet metal, and exponential growth in electronics.

    Some survive, some fall to the side, others are absorbed. It’s the nature of the beast.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    It took me so long to write this reply on my Commodore 64 using a 1200 baud modem on dial-up.

    They really need to work on the page load optimization time.

    We must save the VCRs and CRT-based TVs! Think of the jobs.

  • avatar
    chris724

    “It’s a tough pill to swallow but I’m hoping many of these workers could go into EV production, clean tech, carbon recapture or something relevant.”

    Maybe they could sit around in cubicles wearing smart glasses and opining on things? Or possibly learn to code?

  • avatar
    loner

    I don’t really care one way or another, from a driver’s perspective, between EV and ICE. However, here are some thoughts:

    1. How confident are we that we aren’t just trading one problem (ICE pollution) for another (fossil plant pollution, reliance on rare minerals extracted via slave labor, pollution from all these batteries we’re building) ?

    2. Sure, Tesla is selling a lot of cars, but they aren’t making any money at all by selling those cars, except via carbon credits. Even without the old rebates, it seems like the whole system (not to mention required infrastructure) is going to rely on govt subsidies for some time to come. To me, that isn’t an argument for being a clearly better technology.

    3. It is truly amazing that as I read a collection of car blogs these days, 80% or more of the articles are about EVs. I would never have dreamed we’d be at such a point if you asked me even a year ago

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    “I don’t see how ICE cars will be able to compete”.

    Tesla’s batteries alone cost more than some entire ICE vehicles. The cost of the batteries is the only thing preventing EVs from being cost competitive.

    Unfortunately, it does not appear that global raw materials production for Li-Ion batteries will come anywhere close to the volumes needed to reduce battery costs.

    It will be many, many years before the supply/demand curves for these materials allow for cheap batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Tesla’s batteries alone cost more than some entire ICE vehicles. ”

      Maybe a riding mower, but not any cars. A Tesla Model 3 50 kWh battery is $6,850 at $137 /kWh and an 82 kWh battery on the long-range is $11,234. It’s probably lower than those estimates and will definitely be below those numbers when the 4680 cells get into production.

      Rare Earth and lithium mines are opening up in the US. The Piedmonts apparently have a lot of lithium and will be supplying tesla texas directly. They just broke ground on the processing plant. Na-Ion batteries are in production now and while they currently lag lithium in energy density, I think it’s already good enough for low end EVs. That technology eliminates any material shortage and would drastically reduce costs.

      As battery tech improves and gravimetric density improves, less battery capacity is needed for a given range and less battery capacity means less raw materials needed.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        >Rare Earth and lithium mines are opening up in the US

        And there are those who cite the environmental impact of fossil fuel extraction as an argument in favor of battery production…

        Hypocrisy at its finest.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Hypocrisy at its finest.”

          Not really. You’re assuming that mining for battery materials is as damaging as oil extraction, and that isn’t true in all cases if any. Oil extraction isn’t a matter of cleanly sticking a pipe into the earth. For lithium, there are different methods and sources. Some are cleaner than others. Further down the line, there is a cleaner battery tech emerging. Sodium-ion. It’s not just a lab experiment anymore. They actually have reached production. The energy density is not as good as lithium-ion, but they have been making improvements.

          THe other aspect to look at is that the life of the batteries has been improving. I think technology is improving to the point that battery cells will see service in multiple vehicles over their life. Even when they do reach the end of their life, the materials inside are recoverable. You can’t say that about oil.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    In many many years I hope that battery technology will develop something safer and more cost effective than lithium batteries. I do believe that EVs are the future but there needs to be a major breakthrough in battery technology and infrastructure to support EVs. Costly batteries and the disposal of these batteries make them not affordable to the masses and cause environmental issues. There needs to be an affordable vehicle for the masses just like the Model T was in the early 20th century otherwise just having government subsidies will not change things in an meaningful way. Mass adoption of EVs by the public will only happen with increases in the infrastructure and more affordable EVs.

  • avatar
    craiger

    The analogy of the transition from team animals to automobiles isn’t valid, because that happened naturally, it wasn’t forced upon an unwilling populace via the power of government.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Employment in the auto sector isn’t exactly stable, anyway. It’s down 33% since 2000, but up 44% since 2009.

    Very interesting chart:
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CES3133600101

    Transitions to EV production are going to be slow and steady.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Yeah they got plenty heads up to look for another job. A real one maybe.. Who cares anyway most supplier jobs are in 3rd world places for $5 a day. Yes I said that right. The $5 an hour jobs are glamour positions assembling Rams, Silverados, Passats, BMWs, Corollas, Tacomas or something.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Well that is not completely true because in New York City laws were eventually passed to ban horses after the automobile became more popular. Horses leave a lot of excrement on streets requiring city employees to remove this excrement which if not cleaned up daily would cause the spread of all kinds of diseases. People complain about car exhausts in urban areas and have no idea of what it was like 100 years ago to contend with excrement on the streets left by animals.

    I don’t believe in subsidizing EVs themselves but I could see Government funding for development of better and more affordable battery technology which would not be just limited to EVs but to batteries used to store energy generated from cleaner sources. Just giving someone a tax credit for buying an EV only benefits those who can afford EVs and would probably buy an EV without any subsidies. Developing more affordable batteries will make EVs more competitive with ICE and more consumers would be able to afford EVs.

  • avatar

    What do they worry about? They will be locked at home anyway because of new variations of COVID coming our way as President Harris suggested in TV interview. They will sit at home and get their portion of UBI. It is a free country after all.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Remember “the best is the enemy of the good”. Incentivizing the purchase of hybrids or any high MPG vehicles regardless of the technology used would yield faster and more cost effective emissions reduction than mandating and subsidizing EVs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The problem with just incentives for purchase of EVs is that only a select few can afford most EVs. Government funding for the development of better batteries would eventually lead to lower cost batteries and lower the cost of EVs making them more affordable to more people. Along with better and lower cost batteries expanding the charging infrastructure and modernizing and expanding the power grid. If the price of EVs becomes more competitive with ICE then ownership of EVs become more viable to most. If those living in apartments or in downtown areas have more access to charging then EVs become a better choice. Along with infrastructure and better batteries add more promotion of EVs that they require less maintenance, lower cost of ownership, and cleaner air. Less expensive EVs in the hands of more consumers similar to how Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile with the Model T making it more affordable and giving the consumer an incentive to give up their horse and buggy for a Model T. Before the Model T automobiles were considered a toy of the rich beyond the reach of the average person.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      There are several EVs available around the $30k mark, like the one I drive every day. And that’s before the Federal subsidy.

      Frankly, I’m not too worried about EV affordability when people seem to afford $50k trucks and SUVs with no problem.

  • avatar

    Considering this change over started ramping up 7 years ago and most people aren’t projecting the end of IC vehicle production for at least another decade, it would seem that its a reasonably slow transition that could be handled in an orderly fashion.
    I have said before that our country (politics big business etc) is not designed to handle quick change, but to me this isn’t that. If they said all cars had be electric 2025 I might say the industry association may have more of a leg to stand on, but not this.
    Also while electric cars may have less moving parts, assembling battery packs and the associated wiring is pretty damn complex I doubt overall man hours to build a Bolt are much less that to build a Trax/Equinox. Trying to research this auto makers seem to be touting 30% reduction in labor hours but nothing to back it up (mostly claims that automated battery manufacture will be the difference versus labor hours on engine assembly) a look at some reports on Tesla seems there average assembly labor per car is somewhat higher than other automakers $2800-$3700 versus $1700-$3000. I’m sure someone with more industry knowledge might know better.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      It’s not so simple to compare the hours to assemble a Bolt vs the hours to assemble a Trax, Equinox, or RAV4 or Escape.

      Different automakers have different philophies, and even within the same carmaker, the plants have evolved differently.

      One plant may have the engine and transmission come in as a single module, ready to be installed. The next one may have just the ‘base engine’ come in and have to add the trans, engine wiring harness, maybe trans harness, AC compressor, alternator.

      Let’s assume an ICE car where the engine/trans is a single module. On an EV, the electric motor replaces that. That piece is comparable (both have a driveshaft, or half-shafts), maybe less for the EV. The EV has a battery pack; and ICE has a fuel tank. The battery pack is probably a tad more labor intensive. But there is not muffler. So overall, advantage EV. Not huge, but considerable.

      But, the carmakers currently assemble their own engines, and usually transmissions, in engine/trans plants. My sense is THAT is where the big labor savings come into play. An electric motor seems pretty simple compared to an engine. And no trans. That’s a HUGE advantage for EVs. Look for the present administration to create a special benefit for (union only) workers displaced from engine and transmission plants.

      In any case, it’s clear to me you have all missed the innovation that will help our planet—the transporter beam. First large entities, and eventually, smaller models for home, will dispense with the ICE/EV argument.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Here’s an example of EV motor assembly from BMW [I know nothing about their process]:

      https://youtu.be/49iJpZX1QlA

      Apologies for the quality of this video – you may have to look carefully around the crowds of humans to see the machines working.

      (This video is from 2013 – pretty sure they have reduced the level of automation significantly since then – why wouldn’t they? [Also note that the machines were pacing themselves pretty well 8 years ago.])

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        And here is a completely fictional ‘example’ of battery module assembly (from a year ago):

        https://youtu.be/JESmMRO5CGY

        [Count the humans on the clock in this video.]

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Here is an example of battery *cell* production from VW:

          https://youtu.be/GdPQQQXMId4

          My observations (yours may differ):
          • Incredibly labor-intensive
          • Remarkably similar to a traditional powertrain assembly plant

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Possibly related:

        In my current state of residence, high school graduates can attend a two-year community or technical college free of charge. As a ‘mentor’ for this program I was talking to another mentor, a long-time attorney. His son earned a two-year degree in Mechatronics from the excellent local technical college (free), got a job in robotics maintenance, and now out-earns his father the attorney.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I think 30k is a lot for some people. If you are truly concerned about the environment and getting the old polluting hoopties off the road then there needs to be more affordable options available especially for lower income workers that have to drive in order to work because there are no viable mass transit options available. EVs are more for those who are making a pro-green statement and that have the money to afford them. EVs for now are not a viable option for most. The goal should be to make more affordable EVs with the infrastructure to support them and not just a green statement otherwise most people will not buy EVs and they become a novelty. China seems to have more affordable EVs and it might take Chinese EVs to be available to the US market for EVs to become more widespread. Yes I know there is the Nissan Leaf but there needs to be more competition. Tesla, GM, and Ford are not competing on the affordable EV market more on the niche market for those who want to make a statement. People can buy a lot of gas for the price difference of an EV especially if they sell their ICE vehicles to get an EV and those who are working class can barely afford the gas. Feed them cake is not going to cut it for most of those who are barely middle class.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      There are two avenues which will open EVs up to those who are less than affluent:

      1. Tesla’s strategy has always been to move downmarket:
      https://www.torquenews.com/13417/tesla-s-planned-25k-car-could-end-being-half-price-when-incentives-kick

      2. Depreciation. Most people drive used cars, because they’re cheaper to purchase. Look at the life of the typical GMT900 for an example of how poor people drive expensive (but useful and reliable) cars. EVs will depreciate more quickly when the supply increases.

      All of this takes time, but it’s underway now and it will happen.

      • 0 avatar
        tomLU86

        Yes. And cars with depreciated batteries will depreciate even faster than cars with internal combustion engines.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “And cars with depreciated batteries will depreciate even faster than cars with internal combustion engines.”

          Except for that modern material science has solved dendrite and other battery durability issues to the point that battery life is increasing to 100’s of thousands of miles and possibly a million plus. Battery cells will see life in multiple cars going forward since they will probably outlast anything they are put into.

          So forget about the depleted battery argument. It might apply to older EVs, but science has changed that for newer vehicles depending on the manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      craiger

      My wife and I wanted an EV, not for green reasons, but for torque, simplicity, and home charging. We didn’t go for one because of the cost.

      I don’t expect battery prices to come down. In fact I expect them to go up. Right now they need nickel, manganese, lithium, copper, and cobalt. Maybe newer battery technology will be developed which doesn’t need these, but who knows?

  • avatar
    Sou812

    You ever heard of unobtainium?
    Look it up on YouTube. Just the portion of the video that shows how much earth would have to be mined to make batteries for just our countries cars, to run on electric, is terrifying.
    Goodbye rainforest. Even if science finds a way to make batteries out of sand, our desserts would be gone. Batteries don’t get made from thin air folks!

  • avatar
    Sou812

    You ever heard of unobtainium?
    Look it up on YouTube. Just the portion of the video that shows how much earth would have to be mined to make batteries for just our countries cars, to run on electric, is terrifying.
    Goodbye rainforest. Even if science finds a way to make batteries out of sand, our desserts would be gone. Batteries don’t get made from thin air folks!

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