Inside the Republican Attacks on Electric Vehicles

The electric vehicle, a breakthrough achievement in automotive technology, has driven into this year’s presidential election, inflaming partisan fights that have come to define much of American culture.

One reason is that President Biden has made electric vehicles central to his strategy to combat climate change. This week, his administration announced the most ambitious climate regulation in the nation’s history: a measure designed to accelerate a transition toward electric vehicles and away from the gasoline-powered cars that are a major cause of global warming.

The political war over electric vehicles has been fueled by an incendiary mix of issues: technological change, the future of the oil and gas industry, concerns about competition from China and the American love of motorized muscle. And in the rural reaches of America, where few public charging stations exist, the notion of an all-electric future feels fanciful — another element to the urban-rural divide that underlies the nation’s polarization.

Mr. Biden’s opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, has for months escalated attacks on electric vehicles broadly and the new regulation in particular, falsely calling the rule a ban on gasoline-powered cars and claiming electric cars will “kill” America’s auto industry. He has called them an “assassination” of jobs. He has declared that the Biden administration “ordered a hit job on Michigan manufacturing” by encouraging the sales of electric cars.

Within minutes of this week’s announcement of the new rule, similar talking points — albeit not as violent — flooded the Republican ecosystem.

“The Biden administration is deciding for Americans which kind of cars they are allowed to buy, rent and drive,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment Committee, in remarks that were echoed across the Capitol and on Fox News. A Fox News headline falsely claimed “Biden mandates production of electric vehicles.”

Back to top button