U.S. military could help stop electric vehicle slippage


With a massive fleet of vehicles right behind the Postal Service, the US Department of Defense could leverage its purchasing power to help propel the US electric vehicle market into high gear. This mission would be facilitated by the favorable provisions for electric vehicles in the Build Back Batter climate action bill. Too bad 51 US senators are determined to prevent the bill from becoming law. Nonetheless, DOD is poised to leave its mark on the sparkling green economy of the future, bill or not.

Warning signs for U.S. electric vehicle manufacturers

During the weekend, our friends from CNN ran the numbers on U.S. electric vehicle makers after Rivian, Lucid and other startups suffered a sharp drop in stock exchange.

As observed by CNN Business Journalist Journalist Chris Isidore, startup problems began to develop earlier this month, when historic automakers like Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford and GM announced plans to step up their pivot in the electric vehicle market.

In particular, Ford’s track record with the F-150 Lightning pickup, the Mustang Mach-E SUV, and the all-electric Transit van demonstrates how mainstream automakers can wrest the handy fruit of brand identification. to startups.

West Virginia US Senator Joe Manchin then twisted the knife on Sunday, December 19, when he appeared on television to announce that he would align himself with the 50-member Republican caucus in opposition to Bill on Build Back Better climate action, which is said to have provided significant benefits for electric vehicle manufacturers.

Isadore quoted a Wedbush Securities analyst who called the loss of Senator Manchin’s vote on Build Back Better a “punch” for US electric vehicle startups.

The US Department of Defense takes the torch of the electric vehicle

Senator Manchin’s announcement may have been a reaction to President Joe Biden’s decree issued on December 8, in which he prohibited federal agencies from investing in unreduced fossil fuel projects abroad. Reduction loophole leaves plenty of wiggle room for coal and other fossil fuel projects, but the order could still impact Manchin financial interest in the American coal industry, and that makes it personal.

The president also ordered all federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by leveraging their supply pipelines, and this could impact the Manchin shutdown relationship with ExxonMobil, Among others corporate donors.

Personal or not, the procurement order throws a nice, meaty bone to legacy automakers who already have a background in the Department of Defense, and startups could benefit as well.

Among other provisions, the ordinance calls for “100% acquisitions of zero-emission vehicles by 2035, including 100% acquisitions of light-duty vehicles with zero emissions by 2027”.

The ordinance allows the Defense Ministry to continue using liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, due to its national security mission. However, a recent report indicates that the agency already has a significant head start on the rapid decarbonization of its light vehicles, including preparing for the construction of charging stations at military installations.

The U.S. military has dabbled in both battery and fuel cell electric vehicles for years, without making too much progress, but signs of a significant acceleration in the pace have emerged in recent months. For example, last February, the Army Applications Lab proposed the new public-private energy transfer cohort to accelerate access to charging stations for the military “anywhere in the world”.

Benefit for legacy automakers

At a conference in November, Assistant Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks also highlighted the focus on public-private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. Although she pointed out that the Army’s non-tactical ground fleet is the main target of electrification in the short term, she also noted the importance of possibly decarbonising tactical vehicles as well.

Among the automakers already linked to the Defense Ministry’s electric vehicle supply pipeline is GM, which has been work with the military on fuel cell electric vehicles for several years. The company’s GM Defense subsidiary has also started teasing an all-electric version of its Infantry Squad Vehicle.

Another example is the Oshkosh Defense Company (formerly Oshkosh Truck). Oshkosh Defense came under the media microscope last spring when it won a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to produce a whole fleet of new, mostly non-electric, mail delivery trucks, but Oshkosh Defense actually makes electric trucks. The company plans to increase its activity in the field of all-electric emergency response vehicles, which could affect its range of vehicles. contracts for DOD vehicles.

Winning hearts and minds for the electric vehicle revolution of the future

Writing for the legal and national defense blog Right TariffMilitary analyst Erin Sikorsky took a closer look at the Dec. 8 decree earlier this week and offered an interesting interpretation of the military’s role in training the next generation of climate warriors.

She noted that the Defense Ministry has a fleet of around 180,000 non-tactical vehicles. With many vehicles being used by multiple drivers, this would translate into a whole new army of EV-trained soldiers who could potentially act as ambassadors for EVs in the civilian world.

Sikorsky also noted that the executive decree contains terms on workforce development, education and adaptability in support of the Climate adaptation plan released earlier this year by the Department of Defense, in particular the part where the DOD states that it is “committed to mainstreaming climate change literacy into all its efforts in training and education, teaching military specific to the training of graduates in war schools ”.

Do not seek & The climate conversation

Of course, no amount of education can filter all the wacky thoughts that go through the military selection process, a troubling example being white supremacist extremism. Nonetheless, deploying tens of thousands of climate-aware fighters to contribute to the national conversation on climate change could be a game-changer.

The ability to deliver a clear and compelling message on climate action to the general public shouldn’t be a challenge, but it is. As entertainingly illustrated by the new Netflix movie Do not seek, a basic conversational level for addressing fundamental questions of human survival has become out of reach, at least today.

Looking for the source of this sad state of affairs, Do not seek cast a large net. The film portrays opportunistic politicians, greedy capitalists, jaded media and distracted citizens who cannot or will not face the facts. They have their fingers in the overloaded cake of public discourse, in which the simple message of science – “the data says we’re all going to die from this coming comet” – evaporates as soon as it falls into the sky. conversation, leaving nothing but a purulent kaleidoscope of word salad to lead the day.

Do not expect Do not seek to change hearts and minds on your own. The film’s leading cast – including Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyler Perry and Timothée Chalamet – could help the climate action message reach some new ears. However, following up on concrete action is a much more difficult line to hedge. If a whole new segment of the electorate suddenly decides to stop holding elections for the fossil fuel players and their allies due to Do not seek, then we get somewhere.

In the meantime, the Defense Ministry has prepared to take on the mission of climate messaging, and it may well succeed where others have failed.

After all, if “Support Our Troops” means anything, then the US military’s call for climate action should inspire all Americans who claim to be patriots to participate, except perhaps those who are patriotic. who attempted an insurgency last year.

Follow me on twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo: ZH2 Tactical Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Courtesy of The American army.

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