As seven Republican presidential contenders debated on Wednesday night in California , former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner for the nomination, spoke at an auto parts plant in Michigan, where he assailed President Biden’s policies embracing electric vehicles.
Mr. Biden on Tuesday visited the state to join the United Automobile Workers on the picket line. The U.A.W. has demanded a wage increase, improved benefits and shorter work hours. Another concern is how the push toward electric vehicles will affect union jobs.
Here is a closer look at three of Mr. Trump’s claims during his speech .
WHAT WAS SAID
“Biden’s job-killing E.V. mandate has dictated that nearly 70 percent of all cars sold in the United States must be fully electric less than 10 years from now.”
This is misleading.
There is no federal electric vehicle mandate, but the Biden administration has proposed environmental rules that would, in effect, require companies to sharply ramp up electric vehicle production. Those requirements could speed up the industry’s transition, but they are not yet on the books. And there is no evidence to support the claim that they would lead to the “death of the U.S. auto industry,” as Mr. Trump claimed at one point, especially with the increased demand for electric vehicles.
The administration’s proposed regulations, if put in place, would push manufacturers to ensure that an estimated two-thirds of new cars sold in the U.S. by 2032 are all-electric — a tremendous challenge. Still, there is some flexibility in the proposed rules. Companies could meet the standards with fewer electric vehicles than the two-thirds estimate if, say, new, nonelectric cars are made more efficient, said Kenneth Gillingham, a Yale University professor of environmental and energy economics.
Moreover, the move to electric vehicles has been years in the making; it is not a product of the Biden administration. The shift has been in part fueled by the fact that automobile manufacturers have to comply with standards by various states as well as countries around the world, in addition to the fact that electric vehicles have gained traction among consumers.
WHAT WAS SAID
“By most estimates under Biden’s electric vehicle mandate, 40 percent of all U.S. auto jobs will disappear — think of this — in one or two years.”
This lacks evidence.
While electric vehicles can be made with fewer workers than gasoline vehicles, the total impact of the transition on jobs is the subject of debate and varying estimates , which depend on different policies and scenarios. It’s unclear where Mr. Trump got his estimate of such drastic job losses within two years.
U.A.W. officials have expressed support for the transition to electric vehicles, so long as certain job protections are in place for members to have roles in the reshaped industry. The union is pushing for automakers to cover workers at battery factories in their national contracts with the U.A.W. Those workers are currently not represented by unions or are negotiating separate contracts.
WHAT WAS SAID
“People have no idea how bad this is going to be also for the environment. You know, those batteries when they get rid of ’em and lots of bad things happen. And when they’re digging it out of the ground to make those batteries, it’s going to be very bad for the environment.”
This is misleading.
It’s true that electric vehicles have more of a carbon footprint than nonelectric vehicles in some respects, including how the batteries are produced. Critics also note that they are in many cases powered by electricity created by coal. But studies have found the gap disappears as vehicles are driven, as The New York Times has reported , and researchers say the environmental benefits will only improve as electric vehicle technology evolves.
Jessika Trancik, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who studies the environmental impacts of electric vehicles and related technologies, says the “life-cycle analysis” of emissions associated with cars shows a clear benefit for electric vehicles compared with internal combustion engine cars.
“In most locations, the emissions are more than 30 percent less and in many locations the difference is even greater,” she said in an email.
There are other considerations as well, she said, including that the mined materials used for electric-vehicle batteries can be recycled and reused.
“Analyses have clearly shown that there is a substantial lowering of environmental impact when shifting to electric vehicles,” Ms. Trancik said.