By on April 7, 2022

The Biden administration held another meeting with automotive executives about how to ensure electric vehicles go mainstream. But this time it included Elon Musk, who runs the most successful EV brand in the entire world.

After taking criticism for shunning the Tesla CEO in earlier meetings, senior officials held an event on Wednesday where he and other industry leaders could contribute as to how the United States should handle a national charging infrastructure and spur adoption rates. Despite Musk having often expressed a dissenting opinion in regard to President Biden’s strategy, the White House said that the meeting was productive and resulted in a “broad consensus that charging stations and vehicles need to be interoperable and provide a seamless user experience, no matter what car you drive or where you charge your EV.” 

That seems like a given and the whole industry has been talking about standardizing charging stations for years. Tesla even tried to corner the market by crafting a nationwide network of proprietary chargers before legitimate competition manifested. However, the White House did not say a similar consensus was reached over how best to handle future EV subsidies.

While Musk’s opposition to renewing the tax-credit scheme is often framed as the direct result of additional incentives tied to unionized labor. The CEO actually opposes any relaunch of the Obama-era plan to subsidize electric vehicle purchases, even those that would disproportionally advantage Tesla after having already exhausted its own quota. Musk has said that EVs will eventually need to stand on their own if they’re ever to be taken seriously, adding that perpetual government backing was irresponsible and would ultimately stifle innovation. He wants the existing quotas to run their course, ensuring a level playing field for all auto manufacturers.

Leadership from other companies has been less opposed to the ideas coming out of the Biden administration. While a few legacy automakers have pushed back (e.g. Toyota), it’s typically due to policies that would link additional subsidies to unionized labor groups that formally supported Biden as a presidential candidate. But few have suggested forgoing additional investments from the government.

Reuters noted that congress had previously approved $7.5 billion in government funding for EV charging stations in 2021 to get the ball rolling. But it added that legislation has been stalled for the new tax incentives to purchase and manufacture electric cars, suggesting that some of the proposals therein may need to be revised or outright abandoned if there’s to be any chance of it passing.

From Reuters:

Ford Motor Chief Executive Jim Farley, Chrysler-parent Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson and Nissan Americas chair Jeremie Papin were among other auto leaders who took part in Wednesday’s meeting, which discussed US funding to “create a national network of 500,000 chargers.”

Also attending were Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.

Executives from Hyundai Motor America, Subaru of America, Mazda North America, Toyota Motor North America Mercedes-Benz USA and Kia Motors America also took part.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was also present and one wonders if she interacted with Musk after Joe Biden erroneously stated that she was the person responsible for “electrifying the entire auto industry” when Tesla holds the lion’s share of the EV market.

There was also rumored to be some talk about the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to deploy tougher vehicle emissions regulations. The ruling has led to some legal challenges by several states and ethanol groups, with automakers coming to the EPA’s defense. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents nearly every major automaker, said the updated rules “will challenge the industry” but it’s ultimately more important that “critical regulatory provisions supporting electric vehicle technology are maintained.”

Meanwhile, corn growers, a Valero Energy subsidiary, and numerous ethanol producers reportedly said the new EPA rules creating stiffer emission requirements through 2026 “effectively mandate the production and sale of electric cars rather than cars powered by internal combustion engines.”

[Image: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock]

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53 Comments on “Biden Administration Meets With Auto Execs, Including Elon Musk...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Harmonizing charging standards is about 10-15 years late in coming.

    To be fair, even the new 800V protocol wasn’t a possibility even 5 years ago.

    I used to say that the Supercharger network should simple be adopted as the nationwide standard, but CCS has caught up with its performance (although not its reliability or availability).

    Supposedly, Tesla was going to somehow make Superchargers available to all EVs, but I don’t know where that stands.

    Things are improving, but pretty much you have Tesla’s very reliable network, then a hodge-podge of everyone else’s. People don’t rate gas stations on whether the gas actually flows, but that’s how it is with EV charging stations. There is a small but real risk of pulling up to a dead/malfunctioning charger.

    By the way, I suspect that whoever came up with that 500,000 charger target doesn’t know how EVs work. Do we really need 8 chargers per square mile?

    Interesting tidbit: While 17% of the US lives in apartments, only 10% of new vehicles are purchased by apartment dwellers.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      There are some good points in your post.

      “People don’t rate gas stations on whether the gas actually flows, but that’s how it is with EV charging stations. There is a small but real risk of pulling up to a dead/malfunctioning charger.”

      I have pulled up to gas stations with no gas or bad pumps in the past, but I am glad that it’s a number I can count on my fingers. Most of the EV chargers I see around *seem* to be operational, but that’s a pretty limited sample size (I see maybe the same 5 chargers in any given month). There are a lot of Teslas around me, so I guess people are just charging them at home (as one would expect for local use).

      “By the way, I suspect that whoever came up with that 500,000 charger target doesn’t know how EVs work. Do we really need 8 chargers per square mile?”

      The continental US takes up 3.1 million square miles according to The Internet. So 500k chargers is actually one charger every 6.2 square miles. (And Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories will have to fend for themselves.) The 1 per 6.2 sq. mi. works out to placing chargers on a 2.5 mile grid. In practice, rural areas could have a greater spacing, while urban areas would need more.

      “Interesting tidbit: While 17% of the US lives in apartments, only 10% of new vehicles are purchased by apartment dwellers.”

      Good point. The EV adoption rate among low income people is likely to lag behind the rich for a long time to come. With increasing concentration of wealth leaving much of the country languishing, it’s quite likely that EV adoption would naturally plateau at a very low level. Making ICE cars and fuel expensive to force a transition will cause pain to poor people, but have little to no effect on rich people.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The majority of people will be well served by the typical EV “fuel” range and rates of charge once the infrastructure is there to support it. As mentioned elsewhere, geopolitical instability and military interests will drive rate of implementation and technological change. Hydrocarbon based fuels for civilian use will eventually be reserved for applications where EV’s are impractical. Jets, and other machines that cover long distances requiring rapid recharge times will remain powered by hydrocarbons. Vehicles in remote areas will most likely remain hydrocarbon powered as well.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “People don’t rate gas stations on whether the gas actually flows, but that’s how it is with EV charging stations.”

      Correct. Gas stations are reliable in their delivery. EV charging stations vary widely and are usually slow. Further, it’s EV manufacturers that make a big stink about how fast a vehicle can charge. That’s what they advertise on. And compared to ICE vehicles, it’s agonizingly slow to refill and EV.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    About time they invited Elon Musk ! Without getting into politics it made no sense for the US administration to snub him ( due to him not being “pro union enough “ or whatever ) he is arguably the most visionary person on the planet right now – they should be kissing his you know what – not snubbing him !!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say Elon Musk’s a** is getting kissed way more than enough these days.

      Based on what I’m seeing from Tesla, he needs less a** kissing and more schooling on quality control.

      • 0 avatar

        Freed, but you have to admit that Elon Musk is smarter and more successful than all US auto executives and POTUS combined. See what happens with Twitter.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @FreeMike: I think that schooling has already happened. Sure, it’s been a lot of years since I was in auto manufacturing and a lot of time has has since I last crawled around the nooks and crannies of the Fremont plant, but I think I’ve seen evidence of steps being taken to remedy the problem. The 1st was being short on capacity resulting in them pushing hard on the limits of the existing plants. The second is the opportunity to use what they’ve learned from the early days of production to improve the design of the vehicles and the processes to manufacture them. They now have the opportunity to solve both problems with the new plants in Berlin and Austin and the new redesigned version of the Model Y.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        You would not include him in discussions on EV related policy? And if you are discussing quality Tesla is right there with Ford, GM and Chrysler.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy had zero to contribute and didn’t need to be there.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Were you invited to attend? Otherwise, how do you know what she had to contribute?

      • 0 avatar
        MitchConner

        The meeting was about figuring out ways to spur mass adoption of electric vehicles. What’s she going to say? The power needs to come from windmills, solar panels, or magic unicorn whiz? The green aspect was a given and didn’t need to be discussed again — especially when several highly valuable people were involved (Biden not being one of the them). If there were any talking points about the environmental benefits of EVs, a packet could’ve been handed to each CEO for distribution to their marketing teams back home (which Musk would’ve left on the table).

        I had the privilege of sitting in on meetings with Andy Grove at Intel — one of the greatest, yet underrated, CEOs in history.. Everything he did, from instilling KPIs throughout the organization to making everyone think of the cost of every meeting (salary of every attendee broken down to their hourly compensation then added up), was done for the sake of operational efficiency. He’d have no problem looking at the attendee list for a meeting, call out a couple of people asking why they were there, then booting them out if he didn’t like the justification. The rule of thumb? If you couldn’t contribute anything — get lost.

        Then again, when the empty headed clown heading the session has zero real world business what do you expect?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    mass adoption of ev’s are not happening and will not happen any time soon

    the minerals for batteries are not there and the electricity is not there – especially unreliable “green” energy

    as the WSJ noted, “battery breakthroughs” are illusory and even Tesla is putting less powerful batteries in their product as lithium prices soar

    Musk has stated many times that evs are a niche and will remain so

    the latest DC boondoggle reminds of “high speed rail”, ethanol and “green energy” – all boondoggles

    watch what the smart companies are doing – Toyota and Honda

    the US Post Office just ordered the next gen trucks – 90% are ice and 10% are ev because they are required to do science and they determined the ev’s will cost THREE times as much to operate as ice trucks

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It’s more entertaining when a post that’s 100% incorrect is a long one – thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “watch what the smart companies are doing – Toyota and Honda”

      Toyota is introducing 15 (fifteen) new BEV Models:

      https://pressroom.toyota.com/revealed-the-all-new-all-electric-toyota-bz4x/

      Honda has announced the Prologue and an Acura EV and plans on collaborating with GM.

      https://global.honda/newsroom/news/2022/c220405eng.html?from=newsrelease_area

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Not to mention, Hyundai, which (together with Kia) outsold Honda last year, is pinning its future on the Electric Global Modular platform, including the Ioniq 5, EV6 and EV9, the next Genesis SUV, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        What “mass adoption” means is open for interpretation but I’ll argue there is difference between being invested (even heavily) in the BEV space and being “all-in” on BEVs.

        In that same press release you linked to Toyota wrote this:
        “Toyota envisions a future in which carbon neutrality is achieved through the practical marketization of *a portfolio of products with advanced, alternative-fuel* and zero-emission powertrain technologies.”

        I brought up yesterday that several automakers in Europe and Asia are throwing public or financial support behind synthetic fuels with hopes of extending ICE offerings.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          “What “mass adoption” means is open for interpretation but I’ll argue there is difference between being invested (even heavily) in the BEV space and being “all-in” on BEVs.”

          How about forced adoption by taxing ICE vehicles off the road?

          The move to EVs is not organic. People really don’t want the EVs due to how inferior they are to ICE vehicles. They need more time and should be investing heavily in hybrid and PHEV vehicles while working towards making EVs a viable and reasonable replacement for ICE.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            “People really don’t want the EVs due to how inferior they are to ICE vehicles.”

            You need to learn the difference between “I” and “people.”

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “You need to learn the difference between “I” and “people.””

            @Astigmatism – trolling is all about the “I” riling up the “people”.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “You need to learn the difference between “I” and “people.””

            I am well aware of the difference. I’m speaking for the vast majority of people. EVs are not in demand and are not seeing any appreciable sales spikes. The vast majority of vehicles sold are ICE vehicles.

            Just about every manufacturer has an EV these days. There isn’t a shortage. You can choose to bury your head in the sand like some of the others around here or resort to juvenile name calling but that won’t change the truth.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            “EVs are not in demand and are not seeing any appreciable sales spikes.”

            Sure. Tesla’s Q1 sales in the US were up 87% compared to last year while the overall industry was down 15%; and the UK recorded more EV registrations last month than it did in all of 2019; but yeah, no appreciable sales spikes at all.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “mass adoption of ev’s are not happening and will not happen any time soon

      the minerals for batteries are not there and the electricity is not there – especially unreliable “green” energy”

      Your post is 110% spot on. It’s common sense. We are just not there yet.

      Plus, I think a lot of people are wising up to the amazing damage to the planet sourcing materials for EV batteries causes and all the other shortcomings.

      It’s a house of cards and there isn’t enough surface area to put up enough windmills or solar panels to charge all these adult power wheels.

  • avatar

    Man will never land on the moon. It is too expensive and too risky for humans to undertake. Congress and voters will never support such a program when there are lot of issues here on Earth to take care of like climate change, world hunger and never ending wars.

  • avatar
    jmo2

    It’s better than sending money to Putin and Mohammed bin Salman.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Brandon finally figured that Musk exists. Kinda racist to ignore such a prominent African American but then it is Joe….

  • avatar
    gregtwelve

    All of this government meddling in the free market for whatever reason that they perceive as furthering their “progressive” green agenda means basically one thing.

    More control for them and more subsidies for their buddies while vehicle users and buyers get screwed. Yes driving will become much more expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      It’s about far more that being green. It’s about reducing our dependence on and having more leverage over people like Putin and MBS. Or were you fine with us spending trillions in the Middle East to stabilize oil prices?

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Agree but I don’t want to be dependent on countries that are not friendly to the US for rare earth materials. I might eventually get an EV when the batteries and infrastructure improves. I would like to see us not get involved in any global conflicts especially if we are dependent on importing resources that draw us into a war. Like it or not we need to produce more of our own resources and expand our power grid. We need to seriously consider building more nuclear power plants and not just plan on solar and wind to produce all our power needs especially if we are going to eventually replace coal and natural gas.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Agree but I don’t want to be dependent on countries that are not friendly to the US for rare earth materials.”

          US production of these materials is increasing, especially with the DPA. What cars, including ICE, don’t use rare earth materials? Everything sold new seems to have a number of electric motors or audio speakers.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            Good that it is increasing but if we are going to import any rare earth materials I would rather it be from countries like Mexico and Canada and not China and Russia. EVs would use more rare earth than ICE but agree about everything that has engines and motors uses rare earth materials.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Or were you fine with us spending trillions in the Middle East to stabilize oil prices?”

        Or sending our sons and daughters there to bleed, suffer, and die?

        Name a time where governments haven’t meddled in free markets? Oh and for bonus points, when have markets been 100% free?

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff S

          There never has been 100% free market. As for sons and daughter fighting over in the Middle East President Eisenhower warned us of Military Industrial Complex in his last speech before leaving office. There is too much money invested in weapons and the weapon manufacturers represent a huge number of lobbyist in DC along with the Energy Industry and fund a lot of campaigns. https://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikes-warning-of-military-expansion-50-years-later

  • avatar
    Dartdude

    What about the generating plants? Who is going to build those and who is going to pay for them. They need a special surcharge for people that use the grid for electric cars. The govt needs to stick to it’s purpose and quit handing hard working taxpayers money for their cronies. They can’t even do the job protecting the borders. If you want something than pay for it your self. We are becoming a nation of beggars.

  • avatar
    gregtwelve

    We could reduce our carbon emissions to zero and it would have close to zero effect on the climate especially while China is building hundreds of coal-fired power plants all around the world every year.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s all good intentioned, but it’s playing right into the hands of the Chinese. Mexico including the cartels couldn’t be more in love with the Chinese and vise versa, along with US companies recently abandoning their Mexico factories, NAFTA/USMCA, US inflation and others.

    Also the world’s largest mineable lithium field was just found in Mexico just south of the border.

    Chinese ICE vehicles not so much, emissions and reliability are a problem, but Chinese/Mexico EVs would be welcome by US consumers, plus imported chargers, parts and rebuilt/replacement batteries.

    Even the domestics and or “US built” will have imported EV subassemblies and batteries mostly, to be competitive and any chance of profits. I can’t wait for the Ford Lightning knockoff.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      The US has a much bigger presence in Mexico than China does. Geopolitically, reducing our dependence on a fossil fuel market that enriches and empowers the worst regimes in the world is a much better option, particularly with new battery tech being developed at a breakneck pace that don’t require rare earths.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Oh yeah those pesky OPEC nations, almost forgot. China and Mexico make them look like angels in comparison.

        There’s going to be tough consequences by a hard push to EVs, ecological and otherwise, further trade imbalance, vs letting things evolve naturally.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @DenverMike – valid points. With that being said, Mexico is more likely to move away from being a corrupt narco-state under western influence than that of the Chinese. If “we” assist them in developing their economy that would reduce the influence of the drug lords and reduce the populace’s desire to emigrate to the USA.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Had to giggle like a schoolgirl, sorry. It would be many times easier to fix our illegal drug dependency. Then start Mexico over from scratch.

            What’s never talked about is the main reason illegal immigration happens, all with a wink and a nod, modern-day slavery and actually some real Dark Ages sh!t that flys under the radar while arguing a pointless wall. Yeah that’ll fix it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @DenverMike – I said “more likely” not “definitely”. I agree that the “illegal’s” problem won’t get fixed as long as there are those making money off of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      @DenverMike–Good points. As for Chinese made vehicles we are already importing them–Buick Endeavor and some Volvos but otherwise I agree with you about reliability for Chinese ICE vehicles. We need to be honest about “US built” with imported subassemblies and batteries.

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