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Chinese EV company BYD overshadows Detroit’s EV future

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(The Center Square) – As Michigan dumps billions of taxpayer dollars into the factories of private electric vehicle makers, a Chinese EV maker BYD outsold Tesla in the final quarter of 2023.

The foreign automaker said it produced more than 3 million new energy vehicles in 2023 compared to Tesla’s 1.8 million.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said the subsidies will help Michigan and the Big Three automakers create millions of affordable EVs.

“Michigan automakers are on the cutting-edge of the world’s switch to zero emission vehicles, and with today’s executive directive to transition our state-owned fleet by 2040, the State of Michigan is leading by example,” Whitmer said in a previous statement.

John Mozena, who has decades of experience in the automotive and battery industries and is the president of the Center for Economic Accountability, said that BYD might not crack the U.S. market.

“We have no idea what companies will ultimately do well in the EV marketplace, and what ones will fall behind,” Mozena wrote in an email. “That’s the fundamental flaw of government subsidies to companies – nobody really knows what the future of the automotive industry will hold.”

Mozena said foreign auto manufacturers such as Renault or FIAT or developing-world vehicles such as Tata or Mahindra haven’t been able to crack the U.S. market.

The uncertainty of which company will dominate EV sales, and if EVs are even the future of transportation has driven the federal and state governments to subsidize “pretty much any would-be EV manufacturer who shows up with a business plan that’s a step above ‘I make battery car’ scrawled in crayon on a used Taco Bell wrapper,” Mozena wrote.

Since 1980, consumers have chosen to drive vehicles with internal combustion engines instead of electric vehicles because of range anxiety, a sparse charging network and a higher upfront cost, according to recent reports.

In the last four years, the federal government and Michigan have offered billions of dollars to boost EV production and extend the charging network, including $1.8 billion to Ford Motor Company’s Marshall EV plant, $824 million to General Motors, and $715 million to Gotion.

Ford said the Marshall EV plant would pump out 2 million electric vehicles globally by 2026 to reach President Joe Biden’s target of 50% EV sales by 2030.

The factory later cut 800 planned jobs and $1 billion in production because of weak EV demand. Michigan has about 34,380 EVs registered – 1.9 million short of Michigan’s 2030 climate goal.

In the third quarter of 2023, General Motors produced 32,000 EVs but abandoned a plan to deliver 400,000 EVs over about two years.

“If the federal government wants American automakers to be competitive on the global stage, they should let those companies focus on competing to meet the wants and needs of customers, rather than the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats,” Mozena wrote.

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