Auto Industry’s Electric Transition Sparks Tension With Autoworkers: The Kiplinger Letter

DoE announces $12 billion to support electric transition and factory retrofits — autoworkers fear it may mean the end of numerous auto manufacturing jobs.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda stated aims are to: leverage historic levels of private sector investments in the U.S., bring manufacturing back to America and create new, good-paying jobs, including union jobs. But autoworkers fear they’ll be left at the altar. To help you understand what is next for the auto industry’s transition to electric, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

A new round of funding aims to ease the auto industry’s electric transition. The Department of Energy (DoE) has announced $12 billion to support factory retrofits, primarily loans, so older facilities can produce hybrid and/or electric vehicles (EVs). An additional $3.5 billion will promote domestic battery manufacturing.

But this assistance for automakers is stoking tensions with autoworkers who fear being left behind. Electric vehicles have fewer parts than gas-powered ones, which could result in the elimination of numerous auto manufacturing jobs.

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Moreover, it’s still unclear how well these various policies will work. Electric vehicles accounted for 8.7% of new car sales in the first quarter of 2023, up from 2.7% in the same period of 2022. But despite some advantages, including lower maintenance costs and faster acceleration, they still cost more and have a shorter range than conventional vehicles, limiting consumer uptake.


Matthew Housiaux
Reporter, The Kiplinger Letter
Housiaux covers the White House and state and local government for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in June 2016, he lived in Sioux Falls, SD, where he was the forum editor of Augustana University's student newspaper, the Mirror. He also contributed stories to the Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit focused on raising awareness of global poverty. He earned a B.A. in history and journalism from Augustana University.