In an interview on SiriusXM, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh weighed in on the Biden Administration's goal to offer $4,500 in extra incentives for electric cars produced by unionized companies in the US. Keogh isn't the only person pushing back against potential legislation that he says is "fundamentally wrong."
According to Automotive News, Keogh said the plan would put resources in the wrong place. It doesn't actually seem to be about curbing climate change, but rather, appeasing certain groups. When you work to exclude some of the top EV makers', and offer lower incentives for those cars produced, you aren't going to encourage more people to buy EVs. Keogh said via Automotive News:
"Look, I'm going to be quite blunt and straightforward. I think it's wrong. I think it's fundamentally wrong. I think an American working in Chattanooga, Tenn., or an American working in any plant in America should get the fair day in court. And there shouldn't be a bigger incentive."
The interview on Doron Levin's "In the Driver's Seat" won't officially air until November 2, 2021. However, Automotive News included several other quotes and details from the conversation.
Keogh believes that if an EV is built in America by American workers, it should qualify for the same incentives as any other EV built in America by American workers. It shouldn't change just because one plant is unionized and a competing factory is not.
Many foreign automakers build cars at plants in America, they create jobs for people on our shores. If our government chooses to punish them, perhaps they should shutter those US plants and look to build and sell EVs in other areas across the globe. Keogh noted that VW, along with fellow automakers, has written a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Toyota has also spoken out:
"Thousands of hard-working auto workers across the U.S. are just as American and deserve as much support for their work in building the electrification of the nation's cars as anybody else. While Congress is debating whether there is enough money for child care, family leave, health care and other issues, House Members who support giving $12,500 to people who can afford a $75,000 electric car are discriminating against thousands of American auto workers and passing on priorities of higher importance."
What's interesting here is that there have been attempts in the past to organize Volkswagen's factory in Tennessee. In both instances, the union lost the election. Why should these workers be punished based on the fact that they voted a certain way? This isn't about politics, or at least it shouldn't be. It's about moving forward.
Keogh went on to say he does completely agree with some of the administration's potential provisions. Keep the incentives coming, promote EVs, and double down on related infrastructure. He also said VW believes the US government should continue to increase fuel economy requirements and help make electric cars affordable to the masses. Involving union concerns just completely clouds the situation.