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Former President Donald Trump skipped the second Republican presidential debate Wednesday, instead making a familiar populist appeal to a crowd of autoworkers in Clinton Township, Michigan. In his remarks — which the Biden campaign deemed "incoherent" despite the worrying standard set by their 80-year-old candidate — Trump condemned the Democratic president's electric vehicle mandates, vowing to eliminate them on day one.
Trump, who leads those Republicans he elected not to debate Wednesday by at least 39 points in the latest Economist/YouGov poll, doubled down on the economic nationalism that helped secure him the White House in 2016, telling autoworkers at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionized automotive parts manufacturer in Macomb County, that the Biden administration was perpetrating a "government assassination" of the American auto industry.
"Joe Biden claims to be the most pro-union president in history," said Trump, referring to the octogenarian Democrat who ratified legislation blocking a U.S. railroad strike last year. "His entire career has been an act of economic treason and union destruction."
"To the striking workers, I support you and your goal of fair wages and greater stability, and I truly hope you get a fair deal for yourselves and your families," said Trump. "But if your union leaders will not demand that crooked Joe repeal his electric vehicle mandate immediately, then it doesn't matter what hourly wage you get."
President Joe Biden, who spoke to striking United Auto Workers members on a picket line nearby a day earlier, has set a target to have 50% of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030. The Biden administration's update to emission limits for cars means that by 2032, EVs will have to make up two-thirds of all new cars sold.
Besides the commonly discussed disruptions that adoption of electric vehicles poses, such as the incredible strain they will likely place on the electric grid, Yen Chen, principal economist at the Center for Automotive Research, told WBUR-FM that they will be job-killers, at least in Michigan.
"Traditional internal combustion engines, vehicles. You need two major components. That's engine and transmission. Of course, along with the engine and transmission, you have a fuel system and exhaust system that go with it," said Chen. "Those [do not] not exist in the EV. EV has none of them. And in terms of the union and employment, making engine and transmission require a significant amount of the labor to put it together."
Ernst & Young estimated that vehicles with conventional power trains have as many as 2,000 components in their power trains. Tesla's drive train, by way of comparison, reportedly contains only 17 moving parts.
In addition to containing fewer parts, EVs rely on construction techniques that are often more automated, meaning not nearly as many workers will be needed, according to Chen.
Ford and other industry experts prophesied in 2019 that an estimated 30% less labor will be required to build electric cars, reported CNN.
City Journal recently suggested that "the total EV ecosystem involves more labor per vehicle, though most of the increase is found in the manufacturing chain," meaning that while jobs may be lost in America, many will likely be created overseas.
Trump suggested in his speech Wednesday that a wage bump won't "make a damn bit of difference because in two to three years, [auto workers] will not have one job in this state."
"[Biden is] selling you out to China. He's selling you out to the environmental extremists. All the radical left people have no idea how bad this going to be also for the environment," said Trump. "You can be loyal to American labor or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics, but you can't really be loyal to both. ... Crooked Joe is siding with the left-wing crazies who will destroy automobile manufacturing and will destroy our country itself."
Trump, who made a show of threatening to eliminate tax credits for EVs while in office, vowed to the crowd in Michigan, "On Day One, I will terminate Joe Biden's electric vehicle mandate and I will cancel every job-killing regulation that is crushing American autoworkers."
The former president vowed also to "unleash a thing called American energy" and "stop the ban on the internal combustion engine."
Axios reported that Trump-voting states are less likely to embrace EVs.
Trump speaks to auto workers in Michiganyoutu.be
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.