WASHINGTON (AP) – Blue Bird, a school bus manufacturer in Georgia, Georgia, plans to sell several hundred electric buses to 15,000 a year. In Michigan, Ford plans to produce the full electric version of its F-150 pickup truck.
Both companies are looking forward to President Biden’s $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure offer to help transform the automotive sector as electric cars move from luxury to mainstream America. The plan reflects Biden’s efforts to accelerate certain sectors of the economy, believing that they will be the drivers of growth for decades to come.
“You need someone to give you a real start,” said Blue Bird CEO Phil Horlock. “It really changes the landscape.”
Biden will visit Ford’s electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, Michigan on Tuesday, returning to the state that won the election, which is the center of the automotive sector that will probably need some government help to get rid of gas.
The Democratic leader wants the government to accept the risk of investing in a number of industries, such as electric cars and semiconductors, which he believes will become the backbone of the US economy. This is a sharp philosophical separation from Republican lawmakers, who prefer the federal government to focus more on the usual steel and concrete asphalting of infrastructure projects.
“He has an industrial policy that we have always had but never adopted,” said Brett Smith, chief technology officer at the Center for Automotive Research. “Our industrial policy was to gain energy at a low price. “Industrial policy transports it without carbon energy.”
In a speech last week, Biden said his proposed public spending tranche was needed to keep the US economy competitive and fair with the help of an already-running coronavirus. In addition to infrastructure, Biden is requesting $ 1.8 trillion to spend about $ 4 trillion on education for families.
Biden said his infrastructure plan was “an eight-year investment strategy to ensure that the people working in this country contribute to the benefits of a growing economy, putting us in a position to win over China and the rest of the world.” For the 21st century. “
The infrastructure package will be paid at the expense of higher taxes. Leading business groups such as the Business Roundtable և US Chamber of Commerce oppose raising the corporate interest rate from 21% to 28%. But some companies that can directly benefit from the cost seem to be willing to trade that, it complicates the current policy as there are clear winners և clear losers like the fossil fuel sector.
Biden openly says that government dollars should create new opportunities for business. It is an attempt to direct private investors where they direct their money, respond to other countries such as China, which support industries such as electric cars, semiconductors, which could threaten America’s dominance.
A White House official said some companies with brief information on the supply of infrastructure described it as an industrial policy quality in which the government cooperates with companies.
One element of Biden’s plan that grabs companies’ attention is the $ 50 billion proposed by the Department of Commerce to monitor U.S. manufacturing capacity և to finance investments to support the production of potential goods. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the companies were interpreting it as a new way of thinking about supply chains, when stockpiles of computer chips, timber and other products were being squeezed.
But the risks are that industrial policy could waste dollars, which will be better directed by the private sector. This can happen at the expense of jobs, as initiatives often go through a political prism instead of economic ones.
“The problem with industrial policy is that it is rapidly becoming highly political,” said Tadas Duesterberg, a senior fellow at the Conservative Hudson Institute. “The administration’s focus is on promoting green technology, but it will lead to significant job losses, reducing domestic oil and gas production and, in turn, chemicals while subsidizing wind-blown products dominated by Chinese-European producers. »
Some companies argue that the types of public investment in Biden’s program are necessary.
The main obstacle to removing US drivers from internal combustion engines is the lack of charging stations. Biden is proposing $ 174 billion for electric vehicles, including $ 50,000 to build a charging station by 2030. Their presence will help overcome the fears of drivers getting into a powerless car, which is one of the challenges facing Ford և General Motors when they try to get electricity. ,
Smith of the Center for Automotive Research stressed that automakers would like to pay the same premium on their shares that Tesla, the leader in electric vehicles, enjoys. But doing so requires the government to take some of the risk of moving to new vehicle infrastructure.
“Right now you are not selling cars without gas stations,” Smith said. “It creates or breaks technology.”
Presidents have long relied on business to get their message across to voters. Biden’s predecessors, Donald Trump և Barack Obama, advertised the Intel chip plant in Arizona as proof of their economic achievements, however, the US semiconductor industry declined compared to the rest of the world. Biden is proposing to invest $ 50 billion in semiconductor research, which is part of a publicly bipartisan package of infrastructure.
Jeff Rittner, Intel’s Chief Government Officer, said the company supported the investment, although it still wanted to know more about possible corporate tax increases. He warned that without government investment, the country would lose to other global competitors for what has become a structural part of the modern economy.
“Only 12% of the world’s semiconductor production is made in the United States, while if you go back a few years, it used to be more than 35%,” he said. “We predict, և studies have shown that if nothing is done, this percentage will fall later.”