Thought Leadership

Comparison of 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Electric Vehicle Plans

 

By Center for Sustainable Energy

February 27, 2020

CSE's clean transportation policy experts have put together an analysis of the main electric vehicle and charging infrastructure plans and policy proposals of the currently active Democratic Party presidential candidates. It illuminates who plans to guide us toward cleaner cars the fastest and at what cost.

Quick summaries of candidate comparative positions are at the top and outlined by candidate in the following narrative. Questions are provided for areas we think voters could probe further about these plans.

Main EV/EV infrastructure policy positions and targets

Funding Commitments

Position on Tax Credits

Additional Standards

Joe Biden

joebiden.com/climate/

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Vice President Joe Biden proposes a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
    • Biden highlights the need for additional EV charging stations, and proposes deploying 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030.
  • Funding commitments
    • Biden’s climate change proposal would cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years. No funding breakdown by sector is provided.
  • Position on tax credits
    • Biden proposes extending the full EV tax credit. He has also stated the need to prioritize middle class consumers’ accessibility to the tax credit and to prioritize vehicles made in America.
  • Additional standards
    • Biden proposes new fuel economy standards for vehicles which would exceed the standards passed by the Obama Administration.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • What is the estimated cost of deploying 500,000 new EV charging stations, and how would the Biden Administration ensure progress towards this goal?
      • In California, Executive Order B-48-18 established a goal of deploying 250,000 ZEV chargers by 2025. However, California is estimated to miss this target by approximately 80,000 chargers, despite a funding commitment of at least $50 million a year.
    • How would the Biden Administration break out the proposed $1.7 trillion across energy and transportation programs?
      • Transportation currently constitutes the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Would transportation funding be prioritized over other sectors that have less emissions?

 

Bernie Sanders

berniesanders.com/issues/green-new-deal/

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Senator Bernie Sanders proposes a target of 100% renewable energy for the electricity and transportation by 2030, and complete decarbonization by 2050.
    • Sanders has also proposes establishing a vehicle trade-in program, in which internal combustion engine vehicles would be exchanged for EVs, and developing a national EV charging infrastructure network.
    • Sanders also proposes to spend $100 billion in investments to decrease the cost of new EVs to $18,000.
  • Funding commitments
    • Sanders’s climate change proposal would cost $16.3 trillion over 15 years.
    • Sanders proposes the following sector-specific funding commitments
      • $2.09 trillion in grants for a vehicle trade-in program.
      • $85.6 billion dedicated to funding a national EV charging infrastructure network.
      • $407 billion in grants for electric school buses and transit buses.
  • Position on tax credits
    • No information listed.
  • Additional standards
    • Sanders proposes developing standards to ensure that the auto manufacturing sector is 100% sustainable by 2030. It is not clear what sustainability means in this context, but Sanders is likely proposing that domestic vehicle manufacturing be completely decarbonized.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • How would the Sanders Administration bring down the price of new EVs to $18,000? What changes to the vehicle manufacturing sector be necessary to achieve this goal? Over what timeframe could this goal be accomplished?
      • Data from the International Council on Clean Transportation indicates that EV cost parity may be achieved within 5-10 years. Does the Sanders campaign agree with this timeframe?

 

Elizabeth Warren

elizabethwarren.com/plans/climate-change

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Senator Warren proposes a target of achieving 100% zero-emission electricity by 2035 and 100% zero emissions by 2030 for all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and all buses.
  • Funding commitments
    • Warren proposes spending $1.5 trillion to fund the transition to zero-emission vehicles, renewable electricity, and clean buildings. No funding breakdown by sector is provided.
    • Warren would also establish corporate taxes to pay for climate change programs, including a $2 trillion commitment over ten years in research and manufacturing. 
  • Position on tax credits
    • Warren proposes protecting tax credits for electric and alternative fuel vehicles, but does not state specifics beyond this.
  • Additional standards
    • Warren proposes a requirement for all light- and medium- duty vehicles to be zero-emission by 2030.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • How would a Warren Administration reform the vehicle manufacturing sector, and how would this proposal be incorporated into Warren’s broader economic agenda?
      • Warren’s climate proposals have included funding commitments to reinvest in American manufacturing, and domestic EV producers like Tesla and GM have experienced success in the EV marketplace. How might a Warren Administration use these examples as blueprints for future manufacturing initiatives?

 

Pete Buttigieg

storage.googleapis.com/pfa-webapp/documents/Climate-Plan-White-Paper.pdf

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Mayor Pete Buttigieg proposes achieving 100% decarbonization in the electricity and passenger vehicles sector by 2035.
    • Buttigieg also proposes offering loan guarantees for manufacturers of conventional engines to transition to the production of new materials, batteries, and electric vehicles.
  • Funding commitments
    • Buttigieg’s climate change proposals would cost between $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion. He also proposes a carbon tax that would distribute revenues back to low- and middle-income Americans.
    • Buttigieg also proposes a Smart City Challenge funded at $100 billion over 10 years to finance innovative, low-carbon transportation options in cities.
  • Position on tax credits 
    • Buttigieg proposes expanding the Federal EV tax credit to $10,000, and to only phase out the credit once a certain percentage of the U.S. vehicle fleet is comprised of EVs.
  • Additional standards
    • Buttigieg proposes establishing a national clean fuel standard to lower the carbon intensity of transportation fuels over time.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • Buttigieg proposes phasing out the Federal EV tax credit once a certain percentage of the vehicle fleet is made up of EVs. How would this proportion be determined, and by what level would the tax credit be reduced?
    • Would tax credit limits for different vehicle manufacturers remain in place, as is currently the case? If not, how would the Buttigieg Administration ensure that tax credits are not being disproportionately issued to high-income consumers of luxury vehicles like Teslas?
      • One of the challenges in designing effective EV incentive programs is ensuring that incentives are not disproportionately rewarded to high-income customers who would have purchased EVs regardless of the incentive, but in actually catalyzing market growth.

 

Amy Klobuchar

medium.com/@AmyforAmerica/senator-klobuchars-plan-to-tackle-the-climate-crisis-b1133845d2bb

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Senator Klobuchar proposed a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
    • Klobuchar also proposed investing heavily in EV charging infrastructure.
  • Funding commitments
    • Klobuchar’s climate proposal is estimated to cost between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. Her plan would be funded by a carbon pricing mechanism.
    • Approximately $1 trillion of this Klobuchar’s commitment would go towards a comprehensive infrastructure package.
  • Position on tax credits
    • Klobuchar supports reinstating the Federal EV tax credit.
  • Additional standards
    • Klobuchar proposes reinstating and strengthening vehicle emission standard for light- and medium-duty vehicles.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • A major infrastructure package has been a key pillar of Klobuchar’s policy proposals. How would vehicle electrification, and EV infrastructure development in particular, be incorporated into a broader package?
    • How would Klobuchar propose paying for new infrastructure investments? Would Klobuchar be open to raising the gas tax, or would she prefer developing a new financing model for transportation infrastructure?
      • Funding for transportation infrastructure remains politically difficult given voters’ reluctance to increase the gas tax or support alternative funding mechanisms.

 

 

Michael Bloomberg

mikebloomberg.com/policies/climate-change

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Mayor and businessmen Mike Bloomberg proposes achieving 100% clean energy as soon as possible, with an interim target of reducing emissions by 50% within ten years.
    • Bloomberg proposes to ensure that 100% of new vehicles be pollution-free by 2035.
    • Bloomberg proposes using tax credits and low-cost financing to fund the buildout of EV charging stations across the interstate highway system. He proposes placing a charger every 50 miles along the interstate.
    • Bloomberg also proposes establishing a Clean Cars for All Program, which would provide vouchers to middle- and low-income families who trade in older vehicles to buy EVs or support public transit.
  • Funding commitments
    • Bloomberg has not identified a cost estimate for his climate proposal, but has proposed quadrupling Federal spending on clean energy research.
  • Position on tax credits
    • Bloomberg proposes extending the Federal EV tax credit and reforming the credit into a point-of-sale rebate, to be more accessible and impactful.
  • Additional standards
    • Bloomberg proposes reversing the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken the vehicle emissions standards, supporting states’ ability to establish their own standards, and strengthen the national standard.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • Transitioning the federal investment tax credit to a point-of-sale rebate would be a significant programmatic change. How would the Bloomberg Administration conduct this transition, and over what timeframe might this be accomplished?
    • How would the Bloomberg Administration support states’ effort to enforce their own, more stringent emissions standards? Would the establishment of different standards create market uncertainty for automakers?
      • Market uncertainty among vehicle manufacturers has been a recurring issue in the discussions surrounding the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken Federal vehicle standards.

 

Tom Steyer

tomsteyer.com/climate-plan-framework/

  • Main EV/EVI policy positions and targets
    • Philanthropist and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer propose achieving net-zero emission by 2045.
    • Steyer also proposes that all new light- and medium- duty passenger vehicles be zero-emission by 2030.
    • Steyer also proposes building out 5 million EV charging stations by 2030, and requiring new parking structures to include EV chargers starting in 2022.
    • Steyer also proposes developing smart financing options for low-income individuals to access clean transportation options.
  • Funding commitments
    • Entrepreneur Tom Steyer's climate plan includes a $775 billion commitment to transportation funding, which includes expanding EV charging infrastructure, electrifying school buses, and updating public transit.
  • Position on tax credits
    • No information listed.
  • Additional standards
    • Steyer proposes a 100% clean standard for all new light- and medium-duty passenger vehicles by 2030.
  • Questions voters should be asking
    • How would the Steyer Administration enforce the proposed standard to ensure all passenger vehicles are 100% emissions free by 2030? Would additional policy mechanisms be necessary, and if so, would the Administration prefer incentives or penalties for non-compliance? 
      • Both positive and negative incentives have been used to transform the vehicle market in California. It is difficult to compare these types of incentives directly, particularly since they are applied to different segments of the market. Has the Steyer campaign analyzed the comparative efficacy of these measures?
    • Steyer’s proposal to deploy 5 million EV chargers by 2030 is significantly greater than Biden’s proposal to deploy 500,000 chargers by 2030. What steps would the Steyer Administration take to deploy this level of charging infrastructure, and what level of investment would accompany this initiative?