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At the White House on Thursday, President Joe Biden praised automakers' ambitious electric vehicle targets. But he did so without the world's largest electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla.
Biden was joined by executives from General Motors (GM), Ford (F), and Stellantis, the business formed by the merging of Fiat Chrysler and PSA earlier this year. However, electric vehicles account only a small percent of both businesses' US sales: 1.5 % for GM and 1.3 % for Ford thus far this year, while Stellantis currently sells no pure EVs in the US.
Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA) has traditionally specialised in battery-powered electric automobiles. So, why wouldn't the world's largest electric vehicle manufacturer be invited?
Even Tesla’s Technoking thought it was strange as he took to Twitter saying "Yeah, seems odd that Tesla wasn't invited."
The United Auto Workers union will also be present for the ceremony, which could explain the seeming snub. The United Auto Workers (UAW) represents workers at GM, Ford, and Stellantis, but has been unsuccessful in organising Tesla workers at the company's Fremont, California, plant.
At her press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Tesla's absence.
"Well, we of course welcome the efforts of automakers who recognize the potential of an electric vehicle future and support efforts that will help reach the President's goal, and certainly Tesla is one of those companies," Psaki said. "I would not expect this is the last time we talk about clean cars and the move towards electric vehicles, and we look forward to having a range of partners in that effort."
When asked if Tesla's nonunion status was a factor in its exclusion on Thursday, Psaki responded, "Well, these are the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers, so I'll let you draw your own conclusions."
Tesla's entire fleet is all-electric
Early Thursday, the three automakers published a joint statement announcing their shared goal of having plug-in vehicles account for 40 % to 50 % of their sales by 2030. However, that number does not include plug-in hybrids with gasoline engines.
Previous pronouncements by the Biden administration urging expanded usage of electric vehicles emphasised their relevance in “good-paying, union jobs."
Volkswagen wasn’t the only EV manufacturer that was snubbed from the event. VW has already exceeded Tesla in EV sales in Europe this year, and its Chattanooga, Tennessee, facility will begin producing an EV for the US market in 2022. However, the UAW has failed to win union representation ballots at that facility on two occasions. The German carmaker was also conspicuously absent from the gathering at the White House.
Despite the fact that Tesla has launched a second assembly line in Shanghai, China, it is only serving Asian and European customers, not American customers. It is building two factories, one near Austin, Texas, and the other near Berlin, Germany.
According to a US government assessment, the Teslas sold in the United States are built at the company's Fremont facility and have considerably more domestically sourced parts than the Chevy Bolt, which gets approximately three-quarters of its components, including the pricey batteries, from South Korea.
GM is constructing battery manufacturing in the United States with the help of partners, which will boost American content in the future. According to the same government assessment, Teslas already receive 50 to 55% of their components from US firms.
The United States pledged at a global climate summit this year to reduce emissions 50% to 52% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
By the end of the decade, President Biden wants half of all new automobile sales in America to be electric. It's a big objective, and it won't be simple to achieve. It will necessitate a large amount of lithium, batteries, electric vehicle charging, and electric vehicle production capacity. Above all, it will cost billions upon billions of dollars.
Tesla is the only automobile manufacturer that doesn’t need to make any great changes to transitioning to EV nor does the company need any push to adopt electrification. Musk clearly had the vision years back.