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Joe Biden Is Getting Serious About Electric Cars And Infrastructure

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It’s infrastructure week for President Joe Biden, Volvo might go public, and Honda. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 31, 2021.

1st Gear: This Is What A Real Infrastructure Week Looks Like

Biden is set to uncover his $2 trillion (as a baseline, $4 trillion over the next few decades) infrastructure plan today, which is actually a pretty big deal. At least, it will be as long as Democrats in the Senate can get over themselves and get legislation over the line, which probably involves getting rid of the filibuster.


From The New York Times:

The spending in the plan covers a wide range of physical infrastructure projects, including transportation, broadband, the electric grid and housing; efforts to jump-start advanced manufacturing; and other industries officials see as key to the United States’ growing economic competition with China. It also includes money to train millions of workers, as well as money for initiatives to support labor unions and providers of in-home care for older and disabled Americans, while also increasing the pay of the workers who provide that care.

Many of the items in the plan carry price tags that would have filled entire, ambitious bills in past administrations.

Among them: a total of $180 billion for research and development, $115 billion for roads and bridges, $85 billion for public transit, and $80 billion for Amtrak and freight rail. There is $42 billion for ports and airports, $100 billion for broadband and $111 billion for water infrastructure — including $45 billion to ensure no child ever is forced to drink water from a lead pipe, which can slow children’s development and lead to behavioral and other problems.

The plan seeks to repair 10,000 smaller bridges across the country, along with the 10 most economically significant ones in need of a fix. It would electrify 20 percent of the nation’s fleet of yellow school buses. It would spend $300 billion to promote advanced manufacturing, including a four-year plan to restock the country’s Strategic National Stockpile of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in preparation for future pandemics.


It would also be a big spend on EVs:

It bets heavily on spending meant to increase the use of electric cars, which today make up just 2 percent of the vehicles on America’s highways.

The plan proposes spending $174 billion to encourage the manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles by granting tax credits and other incentives to companies that make electric vehicle batteries in the United States instead of China. The goal is to reduce vehicle price tags.

The money would also fund the construction of about a half-million electric vehicle charging stations — although experts say that number is but a tiny fraction of what is needed to make electric vehicles a mainstream option.

The plan would increase corporate taxes to pay for itself, which is fine, but better would be simply raising taxes sharply on rich people.

2nd Gear: Geely Is Considering An Initial Public Offering For Volvo

This is in large part, I assume, because of the current frenzy in the stock market over electric car companies and SPACs and all the rest of it, though Volvo doesn’t quite fit the EV company profile, even as it charges hard in that direction.


From Reuters:

Geely’s revived consideration of an IPO for Volvo Cars could value the business at around $20 billion, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday citing people familiar with the matter.

A Volvo Cars spokeswoman said the firm would not comment on speculation.

Volvo is niche, and is very successful because it is niche and not trying to do too much. Any grand plans beyond that seem to me to be an overreach, but also a lot of people long underestimated Geely.


3rd Gear: Daimler Is Speeding Up Its Electric Plans

The maker of Mercedes did not give specifics, and this might be just an attempt to cash in on said market frenzy, but it is still broadly true that this is where the wind is blowing anyway.


From Reuters:

“We want to accelerate the electrification of our product portfolio,” Chief Executive Ola Källenius said. “It’s our goal to reach this target sooner.”

When asked during a video conference call with investors why Daimler had not provided updated targets for accelerating electrification, the carmaker’s CEO said this would depend on many factors, including the availability of charging infrastructure for electric cars.

Källenius said Daimler will retool two of its oldest German plants, Untertürkheim and Berlin-Marienfelde, and retrain workers to make electric car components as well as parts for fossil-fuel models.

Daimler will next month unveil the EQS, an all-new electric Mercedes-Benz sedan using a dedicated electric vehicle platform. The company said on Wednesday the EQS should have a battery range of up to 770 kilometers (478 miles).


4th Gear: GM CEO Mary Barra Will Meet With Black Media Leaders

Full-page ads in newspapers apparently still work, as the group (including Ice Cube) took out one on Sunday in the Detroit Free Press to call Barra racist, in part because of how GM allocates its advertising dollars. And also because they said that Barra had declined repeated requests to meet with them.


At any rate, Barra will now meet with them.

From the Detroit Free Press:

But on Monday GM’s Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl had a preliminary meeting with Byron Allen, the head of Allen Media Group which owns the Weather Channel, and several of the men who signed the full-page ad.

That meeting was “constructive,” prompting the parties to set up a follow-up meeting with Barra for Thursday, said GM spokesman Pat Morrissey.

“We never said we would not have a meeting with Mr. Allen,” Morrissey said. “We indicated we wanted to have a preliminary meeting between our chief marketing officer and his team to lay out our broader strategy on diversity and Black-owned media, including all marketing, advertising and sponsorship activities prior to a meeting with Mary.”

Allen said GM reached out to him Sunday afternoon. He and the others spoke with Wahl on Monday morning.

“The meeting with Mary Barra is long overdue,” Allen told the Free Press Tuesday. “We’re looking forward to it and we hope that we can finally get something done where we have meaningful economic inclusion for Black-owned media.”

He said Barra has the opportunity to do something “transformative in corporate America” by being a leader in including Black-owned media in GM’s media spending. But he said the full-page ad influenced the meeting with Barra, even though GM said it did not.


I don’t know why GM insists on arguing the particulars here, just take the meeting and shut up about it.

5th Gear: A Sizable Honda Recall

According to Reuters, the recall includes 628,000 cars in the U.S., and 761,000 worldwide.


From the notice on NHTSA’s website:


Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Acura MDX, MDX Sport Hybrid, RDX, TLX, Honda Accord, Civic Hatchback, Insight, 2019 Acura ILX, Honda Accord Hybrid, Civic Coupe, Civic Coupe Si, Civic Sedan, Civic Sedan Si, Civic Type R, Fit, HR-V, Odyssey, Passport, Pilot and Ridgeline, and 2018-2019 CR-V vehicles. The low-pressure fuel pump inside the fuel tank may fail.


Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel pump assembly, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 18, 2021. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138.


Reverse: Trade Is Transportation


Neutral: How Are You?

You can get the shot in New York now if you are over the age of 30, and I am 36 so I qualify, but booking an appointment online is a whole other ordeal. And next week, many teens, who were born already connected to Wi-Fi, become eligible. I look forward to getting the shot sometime in June.