Biden says he wants to close ‘loopholes’ that allow key parts like engines, steel and glass to be manufactured abroad.
President Joe Biden has promised to replace the United States government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus towards clean energy.
“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers,” Biden said on Monday.
Biden criticised existing rules that allow vehicles to be considered US-made when purchased by the US government even if they have significant non-American made components.
Biden said he would close “loopholes” that allow key parts like engines, steel and glass to be manufactured abroad for vehicles considered US-made.
The White House did not immediately answer questions about over what period Biden planned to replace current vehicles. It could cost the US $20bn or more to replace the fleet.
Biden’s “Buy America” executive order signed on Monday does not direct the purchase of electric vehicles.
As of 2019, the US government owned 645,000 vehicles that were driven 4.5 billion miles (7.2 billion kilometres) consuming 375 million gallons (1.4 billion litres) of gasoline and diesel fuel, according to the General Services Administration (GSA).
The US government spent $4.4bn on federal vehicle costs in 2019, the GSA said. Of US government vehicles, just 3,215 were electric vehicles as of July 2020, it said.
During the campaign, Biden promised to “make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal and local fleets”.
He also vowed to create one million new jobs in the “American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations”.
Biden backs new consumer rebates to replace old, less efficient vehicles with newer electric vehicles and incentives for manufacturers to build or retool factories to assemble EVs and parts.
Biden has also promised to build 550,000 EV charging stations and spend more in clean energy research.