More electric pickups for the people!
In response to consumer demand Ford is upping its production of the F-150 Lightning, the all-electric pickup it rolled out to great fanfare a few months ago. Yes! Ride the lightning. We dug it then. We dig this now. Here’s the Detroit News with details:
Increasing production will bring the output to 150,000 vehicles per year at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in the Blue Oval’s hometown after deliveries begin in the spring. The announcement comes as the company has received nearly 200,000 reservations for the first electric version of America’s most popular vehicle and as General Motors Co. is set to reveal virtually its all-electric Chevrolet Silverado on Wednesday at the CES trade show in Las Vegas.
The advent of electric vehicles is nigh, everybody! We may be split on this, but the science behind this reorientation of our energy sourcing is settled – and the fact that entire industries are investing billions of dollars to make this reorientation happen demonstrates they think it’s settled, too. That’s good; we’re not using this stuff responsibly anyway. So good job, Ford, for giving the American people what they increasingly want: big, honkin’, clean trucks to drive around in.
Now we need more public policy to push the reorientation along.
The American auto industry has historically been an engine (pun intended) of economic growth and remains an enormous part of the national economy. Losing it would be unwise. The Obama administration’s decision to bail out a big part of it in 2009 was derided by its political opponents who (shocker) turned out to be wrong. But they weren’t wrong because we would have lost domestic auto manufacturing writ large. The benefits of an auto industry would just largely accrue elsewhere. There is something to be said for the huge industrial ecosystem of parts manufacturers in the United States. Those are here and their jobs are here because there is an industry located here. Assembling a vehicle full of imported is good; it will support a number of jobs, and generate local economic activity. But manufacturing a vehicle here, largely from the ground up, is far better.
Congress, despite all of its well-covered partisan bickering, did a lot of work in the past year to prepare the ground for the shift to domestic electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, and the lion’s share of it was in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that includes funding to build out essential stuff like the charging stations that will someday replace gas stations.
But we should be doing more. There’s an international competition for this industry. China is a solid decade ahead of the U.S. in building up EV manufacturing capacity, and it isn’t being shy about it, as detailed in this report released last year by Horizon Advisory. The researchers write:
Beijing’s positioning is no accident The (Chinese Communist Party) prioritizes the auto industry as a source of jobs and of technology, including military-relevant technology, an “industry of industries” at the intersection of the real economy and the high-tech revolution. And Beijing sees EVs as an opportunity to leapfrog the international automotive incumbents. Other developed countries have long dominated the auto sector. China has been unable to break into the high-end. But as the electric motor disrupts the auto industry, Beijing, projects the industry-wide reshuffling will even the playing field. For over a decade, the CCP has subsidized EV production for purchases, positioned to establish Chinese control over critical EV inputs ranging from cobalt to batteries, and aggressively invested in emerging technology.
The Chinese government’s not playing!
To keep pace, Congress should pick up the competitiveness bill passed by the Senate last summer, which funds R&D in all kinds of emerging industries, and get it to President Biden’s desk in 2022. Help manufacturers make more in America.