Buttigieg rebuts Elon Musk on federal electric car investments

EV charging station Source: iStock

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended the Biden administration’s support for electric vehicles that Tesla Inc. chief executive officer Elon Musk dismissed as “unnecessary.”

“We think it’s very important to fund EV charging stations and to also make sure what’s in the next Build Back Better Act to buy down the price of electric vehicles,” Buttigieg said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

Speaking at the same event on Monday, Musk took aim at the Build Back Better Act, a centerpiece economic policy measure backed by President Joe Biden now pending before the Senate. 

“I would say honestly I would just can this whole bill,” Musk said in a Monday, slamming excessive federal spending. “Don’t pass it. That’s my recommendation.”

While Biden’s Build Back Better proposal would reinstate a $7,500 credit for Tesla and do away with any limit on the number of EVs that are eligible per manufacturer, it also would give consumers another $4,500 if the car is assembled by union workers. That would preserve a leg up for other automakers, since Musk has opposed the United Auto Workers’ effort to organize Tesla’s car plant in Fremont, California.

Musk said the bill’s electric car tax credits, and the $7.5 billion included in the recently approved bipartisan infrastructure law, are “unnecessary.”

“Do we need support for gas stations? We don’t,” Musk said. “There’s no need for support for a charging network. I would just delete it. Delete. I’m literally saying get rid of all subsidies. Also for oil and gas.”

Buttigieg countered Tuesday that the Biden administration is committed making sure the transition to electric cars will happen quickly enough to meet the president’s climate goals, will be done in a way that is equitable and benefits U.S. workers. 

“Of course we believe in the benefits of union jobs,” he said. “These are things that don’t happen on their own.”

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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