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EV Fact Check: Tesla Is Keeping American Car Industry Alive, ‘Relevant’

When General Motors was heading toward bankruptcy in 2006 then President George Bush said that American car manufacturers need to create “a product that’s relevant.”

That statement has new meaning today as the world shifts to electric cars.

Tesla beat the impossible odds of starting a new American car company in the throes of the Great Recession of 2008. Now, in 2023, Tesla is challenging the Big Three — not to mention the Chinese.

The Austin, Texas-based carmaker could be on its way to becoming the largest carmaker in the world by output by 2030. And Tesla is probably the most American of American carmakers today since it makes vehicles with the highest American parts content of any U.S. auto manufacturer.

And it recently (2021) finished building a massive gigafactory in Austin, Texas that employs novel manufacturing techniques using giant die casting machines.

EV fact check: good for America

Recently, Former President Trump attacked EVs, echoing a growing consensus among some conservatives that electric cars are bad for America.

Here’s what he said on Truth Social: “The all Electric Car is a disaster for both the United Auto Workers and the American Consumer. They will all be built in China and, they are too expensive, don’t go far enough, take too long to charge, and pose various dangers under certain atmospheric conditions.”

Those visceral but not factual* assertions overlook the fact that EVs are remaking the American car industry.

“EVs are the future of transportation. The writing is on the wall,” Erika Thi Patterson, Auto Supply Chain Campaign Director, Climate Program, at Public Citizen, told me in an email.

“Every time US auto manufacturers have competed to advance their product, they’ve succeeded. But that competition requires urgent action, not devoting precious energy and time to stalling the inevitable,” Patterson said.

EVs help America compete

Remember in 2008 (and in the 1980s) when Toyota and other Japanese car makers were the biggest threat and were bankrupting the American car industry?

Well, thanks to Tesla and a lucky — and surprising — lack of perspicacity on Toyota’s part, the Japanese car industry is falling behind American car manufacturers.

That’s because Toyota executives did not embrace electric vehicles and poo-pooed Tesla for years as an unserious, wannabe car company.

And Toyota also missed a paradigm shift: cars have become gadgets on wheels, packed with AI, cameras and sensors and replete with periodic OTA software updates. Tesla is so far ahead here that Toyota may remain chronically behind.

EVs have also provided a great window of opportunity for both General Motors and Ford. Today both companies are delivering high-quality EVs — such as the Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning — that the Japanese will have much more trouble competing with.

And electrifying the car has also given rise to very promising American EV startups such as Rivian, which, as we speak, is working hard to increase the American-made content of its EVs. It too is building factories in America. The first one in Normal, Illinois (previously operated by Mitsubishi Motors) with another slated for Georgia.

Tough transition

That said, the transition to EVs won’t be smooth for legacy American gas car manufacturers. GM and Ford have to figure out how to make electric cars at a profit, as Tesla — after at least two existential crises — has managed to do.

EVs are also at the center of talks between legacy U.S. automakers and the Untied Auto Workers.

Workers fear for their jobs as manufacturing shifts from ICE (internal combustion engine) cars to EVs, which have less parts and ostensibly fewer jobs for auto workers.

“Automakers need to prioritize creating millions of good, union jobs for employees—alongside switching to green steel [and] sustainable recycling of EV batteries,” said Public Citizen’s Patterson.

Tesla, however, is proving that if you build the right EV, consumers will come.

“More than half of consumers say that they want to buy an EV for their next car. The demand is there and will only continue to rise,” Patterson said.

Replace a gas car with an EV and they self-validate, says Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous.

“As a driver of an electric vehicle myself, I know firsthand the amount of money I have already saved – and that’s before considering the benefit to our clean air and how fun it is to drive,” Jealous said in an email.

“American automakers have an immense opportunity and responsibility to transition us away from the outdated, fossil fuel vehicle to one that does not pollute our communities and contribute to climate change. Not only that, this is an opportunity to once again invest in good jobs here at home while growing the middle class,” Jealous said.



*I drive an EV (a Chevy Bolt) and it goes more than far enough for me. If I fully charge once, I can drive it around Los Angeles County for a week without recharging. That’s 200+ miles. Moreover, it saves me gobs of money as I don’t have to buy gas, which is always extremely expensive in LA.

This article was originally published by a www.forbes.com . Read the Original article here. .

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