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Congress urges Biden to prioritize American EV battery production, distancing from Beijing.

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN,NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:04 PM – Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A delegation of House legislators critical of China will go to Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday to meet with key auto executives to reportedly try and shift the industry’s dependence away from PRC supply chains for the manufacturing of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

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The sessions came a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken (D) met with China’s President Xi Jinping, who described the talks as “candid and constructive.”

The presidents addressed how the two nations might better “stabilize” their relations in the face of rising tensions and China’s intensifying aggressiveness towards the neighboring country of Taiwan.

Republicans chastised Blinken for claiming that the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence and did not firmly represent the U.S., calling it a “dangerous display of weakness.”

The delegation visiting Detroit is led by House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and includes Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.).

Meetings with Ford CEO Jim Farley and Executive Chair Bill Ford, as well as General Motors CEO Marry Barra, are on the agenda for Tuesday, according to a committee aide.

The legislators want to question Ford on why he decided to establish a new EV battery facility in Michigan after Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin rejected a similar arrangement in his state due to “national security concerns.”

CATL Technology, a Chinese battery maker and tech company, would be utilized in the project. However, there are fears that CCP-subsidized car companies, especially CATL, are undercutting Americans and allied auto suppliers.

Youngkin referred to the idea as a “Trojan horse” that would allow China to more easily enter the U.S. car sector. According to a committee staffer, legislators are also concerned about CATL qualifying for both “production and vehicle tax credits.”

The Inflation Reduction Act was designed to minimize reliance on the PRC in crucial areas rather than further cement American companies’ reliance on the CCP, hence, CATL should be ineligible for IRA incentives, according to the aide.

“Ford shares the Committee’s goals of strengthening American competitiveness and establishing EV supply chains in the U.S., and in our meeting tomorrow we plan to share how we’re doing just that,” Ford said in a statement, referring to Bloomberg. “The wholly-owned EV battery plant we’re building in Michigan is only the latest example,” he continued.

President Biden issued the harshest automotive pollution restrictions to date in April in an effort to purportedly encourage more Americans to purchase electric automobiles.

The harsh new pollution rules would force EVs to account for 67 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States by 2032, which is over ten times the number now produced and much exceeds the president’s prior goal to have EVs account for 50 percent of cars sold by 2030.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the average cost of an EV in 2022 is $64,338, whereas the average cost of a gas-powered automobile was much lower at $46,000.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission regulation will apply to automobile model years 2027 through 2032, mandating a 13 percent reduction in yearly average pollutants.

The legislators will also meet with auto suppliers, including Our Next Energy ONE, Continental, Lonero Engineering, Bosch, BorgWarner, and the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association.

Another likely topic of debate is the use of Uyghur slave labor in the supply networks of American automakers. According to a recent analysis from Sheffield Hallam University, more than 50 worldwide automotive components or automobile manufacturers, including Ford, GM, and Tesla, are procuring directly from “Xinjiang-based companies.”

According to an aide, more than 100 global automotive parts businesses have some type of exposure to PRC-forced labor-made items.

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