WASHINGTON — Toyota Motor Corp., American Honda Motor Co. and other non-union industry advocates are criticizing a proposal in Congress that would tie additional EV tax credits for consumers to vehicles assembled in unionized U.S. factories.
The legislation — dubbed the Clean Energy for America Act — was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee in May and includes a provision led by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan that would allow car buyers to receive as much as $12,500 for EVs assembled by union workers at U.S. factories.
In a statement Thursday, Honda called the proposal unfair and discriminatory, arguing that favoring EVs built by union workers will limit consumer choice.
"Our production associates in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio deserve fair treatment from Congress and should not be penalized for their choice of a workplace," Jennifer Thomas, Honda's vice president and business unit leader of corporate affairs, said in a statement.
"By providing fair and equitable treatment for all American auto workers who build EVs and by equally valuing their contributions, we can accelerate our shared environmental goal of achieving widespread EV deployment."
The Japanese automaker said it is committed to increasing its sales of battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles from 40 percent in 2030 to 100 percent by 2040.
In a statement to Automotive News on Friday, Toyota Motor North America said “inclusive policies will accelerate the shared goal of achieving carbon neutrality and electrification of the auto industry.”
"This policy would unfairly discriminate against American autoworkers based on their choice of whether to unionize," said Stephen Ciccone, Toyota’s group vice president of government affairs. "Toyota employees have already sent nearly 10,000 letters to members of Congress who represent them saying: 'As an American, a taxpayer and a constituent, I ask that you stand up for me and my family and oppose this discriminatory proposal.'"
Autos Drive America, which represents the U.S. operations of international automakers, said it supports the administration's efforts to boost EVs and that "incentives are key" to making the vehicles affordable for many American buyers.
"It is baffling that Congress is pushing electric vehicle incentives that only benefit union workers in certain states," Autos Drive America CEO Jennifer Safavian said in a Friday statement. "All U.S. auto workers take pride in their work. Today, half of all vehicles manufactured in the U.S. are built by Americans who have chosen not to join a union. Congress needs to keep full incentives for all-electric vehicles and not play favorites."
The UAW has praised the Stabenow proposal, arguing that it provides additional benefits and incentives and doesn’t prevent automakers from selling any vehicles.
President Joe Biden — who backs the creation of “good-paying union jobs” as the auto industry and federal government work together to accelerate the adoption of EVs in the U.S. and boost domestic manufacturing — referred to the Stabenow proposal in remarks last week.
The president has set a nonbinding target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 emissions-free, which he said will require support for consumers who are purchasing EVs.
“That means purchasing incentives for consumers to buy clean vehicles — union-made right here in America — like the ones championed by Debbie Stabenow and Ron Wyden in the Senate, which provides $7,500 basic credit, $2,500 credit for vehicles made in America and an additional $2,500 credit for union-made vehicles,” Biden said.