Senator Urges Banning $10K Chinese EVs

Electric vehicle charging | Image by Cavan Images/Getty Images

A senator has warned President Joe Biden that keeping China out of the U.S. electric vehicles market is “a matter of economic and national security.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) message came in an April 11 letter to Biden, detailing how Chinese automaker BYD makes and sells more electric cars — 3 million last year — worldwide than any other company, including Tesla, which sold just over 1.8 million in 2023. However, the Chinese company’s EVs are currently not sold in the United States, partly due to an unusually high 27.5% tariff on Chinese cars imposed by former President Donald Trump, which Biden has continued.

The Chinese price advantage is so great that even the extreme tariffs will not keep them out of the U.S. market for long, Vox reported. They can retail at around $10,000.

Brown contends this protection is necessary because China illegally subsidizes its EV industry, just as it has done for years in other sectors. Brown, who represents a state that ranks third after Michigan and Indiana in terms of automotive manufacturing jobs, wants to see a formal ban on Chinese-produced EVs. Brown claims that forcing domestic EV makers to compete with China’s manufacturing cost advantage would quickly lead to a race to the bottom, wiping out workers’ leverage for higher wages and benefits.

In a statement summarizing the points in his letter, Brown said, “Chinese electric vehicles are an existential threat to the American auto industry. Ohio knows all too well how China illegally subsidizes its companies, putting our workers out of jobs and undermining entire industries, from steel to solar manufacturing. We cannot allow China to bring its government-backed cheating to the American auto industry. The U.S. must ban Chinese electric vehicles now and stop a flood of Chinese government-subsidized cars that threaten Ohio auto jobs and our national and economic security.”

The difficulty for Biden is that the Chinese are demonstrating a massive competitive advantage in a market that his administration has sought to promote as a key component of his promised Green New Deal to fight climate change. As The Dallas Express has previously reported, Biden had initially sought to make two-thirds of auto sales in the United States EVs by 2032. Still, the high cost of the cars and low demand by consumers have forced his administration to delay those plans.

Brown’s letter underscores Trump’s alleged appeal to some auto workers last year, urging them to oppose the EV transition. The former president said that if Biden’s “all Electric Cars” plan goes into effect, “CHINA WILL TAKE IT ALL, 100%,” DX reported.

As demonstrated by a member of his own party beseeching him to exclude cheap EVs from the domestic market to save American manufacturing jobs, Biden must decide between prioritizing his climate agenda versus protecting well-paying jobs in key swing states like Ohio that he must have to win a second term, as reported by Vox. It has led to seemingly conflicting policies, like offering Americans $7,500 when they buy an EV while taxing the most affordable EVs in the world to keep them out of the domestic market.

The Chinese-manufactured EVs arguably present a national security threat.

Brown’s letter argues that Chinese EVs compromise national security by transmitting data on U.S. infrastructure and Americans’ habits back to China. His words echoed the concerns expressed by Biden in February when he ordered the Commerce Department to investigate the software used in Chinese-made cars.

“Connected vehicles from China could collect sensitive data about our citizens and our infrastructure and send this data back to the People’s Republic of China. These vehicles could be remotely accessed or disabled,” Biden said, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Yet other observers believe that Biden’s erratic policies make more sense when considered in the context of an overall agenda.

That is the conclusion drawn by Brent Bennett, policy director for Life:Powered at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Bennett, who has a Ph.D. in engineering with a focus on energy storage, told DX, “It seems the strategy is to force automakers to sell more EVs, which primarily use batteries made in China or have materials sourced from China while banning more affordable Chinese EVs. The result is either that we must buy a gas car that is more expensive because of fuel economy mandates or buy an EV that is more expensive because of import bans and tariffs.”

Bennett then explained why this outcome is generally consistent with leftist goals.

“Combined with the regulations and subsidies that are driving up energy costs, the inescapable conclusion is that these policies will require Americans to buy fewer cars, drive less, and generally live less mobile and free lives,” he said.

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