Will Joe Biden replace presidential limo 'Beast'? POTUS plans to switch govt vehicle fleet with US-made EVs

The president has not only focused on clearn energy but also eyes generation of a million jobs in the auto industry


                            Will Joe Biden replace presidential limo 'Beast'? POTUS plans to switch govt vehicle fleet with US-made EVs
President Joe Biden and an electric vehicle (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has brought America’s focus back on clean energy and added with it a nationalistic flavor. The incumbent, who took office a week ago, has vowed to replace the administration’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with US-made electric models to promote the use of green energy.

On Monday, January 25, Biden announced his plan on replacing government cars and trucks with electric vehicles (EVs) assembled in the country while signing a new “Buy America” executive order. “The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we're going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America, by American workers,” Biden said. 



 

 

CNBC reported the same day that the government is a major buyer of vehicles but replacing an entire fleet with US-produced EVs will be expensive and time-consuming. Only a few all-EVs are assembled in the US at the moment. While Tesla, Nissan Motor and General Motors produce such vehicles domestically, Ford Motor and others have such plans lined up. 

The report also quoted Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research as saying: “The current offerings are pretty slim, but the industry’s about to unleash an avalanche of new product, and a lot of it built in North America. Just about every US plant is going to have a hybrid or electric product.”

The Beast (Getty Images)

However, some questions remain unanswered. While the timeline for the replacement remains unclear yet, it is also not confirmed whether the replacement will also include ‘The Beast’ fleet of Cadillac limousines -- the highly secure presidential vehicles. The CNBC report also said that it is not known whether Biden’s plan includes plug-in hybrid EVs that feature a combination of EV motors and traditional internal combustion engines. During a discussion on the plans, the president reportedly referred to the new fleet of EVs as one comprising vehicles “that are net zero emissions”. 

The White House did not come up with an immediate response to the questions. 

EVs would generate jobs in the auto industry

Biden also has the economic aspect in his plan. He said the electric models would generate jobs for the US’s auto-workers and that would also see a large mobilization of public investment, particularly when paired with the separate ‘Buy American’ order he recently signed. 

Reuters reported on Tuesday, January 26, that the entire exercise could cost $20 billion or more. It cited the General Services Administration (GSA) to say that in 2019, the US administration owned 645,000 vehicles that were driven 4.5 billion miles and consumed 375 million gallons of gasoline and diesel. The same year, the government spent a whopping $4.4 billion on federal vehicles, the GSA added. As far as electrification of the vehicles are concerned, only 3,215 were EVs out of the entire fleet of government vehicles as of July last year, the GSA added.

A USPS delivery truck (Getty Images)

The first among the government fleet of vehicles that needs to be replaced is the current fleet of USPS (US Postal Service) delivery vehicles, many of which remain the Grumman LLV models that were picked as the department’s vehicle in the 1980s. 

Biden campaigned during his race for the White House that he would “make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets”. The Democrat also pledged to create a million new jobs in the country’s “auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations”.  The president also promised to set up 550,000 EV charging stations besides spending more in clean energy research. The automakers were elated to hear the president’s announcement.

While GM said it was “encouraged by President Biden’s commitment to supporting American manufacturing”, Ford said the incumbent president’s “early focus on investing in American manufacturing is critical to the continued success of the US auto industry”. Ford, which launched last year a “Built for America” ad campaign, said it “believes that investing in America, its people, goods and services, must be a national mission”. Tesla did not immediately respond, the CNBC report said.