Big government spending often gets a bad rap, but there are times when it can have a truly transformative impact.
Take the massive public works program in the 1950s that built the U.S. interstate highway system. Conceived during the Cold War as a way to move military vehicles, it revolutionized the way Americans have traveled, connected and traded ever since, and is a critical part of the continental U.S. infrastructure.
A similar push is now imminent for the auto industry as Congress weighs the Biden administration infrastructure package. Whichever version of the bill gets approved, it will rapidly accelerate the demise of the internal combustion engine and hasten the rise of electric vehicles.
That's likely to have a huge impact on an auto industry that is on the precipice of a once-in-a-century transformation. The bill, along with other administration steps, will mark the first serious U.S. attempt to catch up with Europe and China's big head start on EVs, and forms a seminal part of the Biden plan to cut carbon emissions and combat climate change. The official goal is for 40 to 50 percent of new U.S. vehicles to be battery-electrics, fuel cells and plug-in hybrids by 2030. Currently, only 2 percent of U.S. new cars sold are electric, compared with 13.5 percent in Germany, 11.3 percent in France and the U.K. and 75 percent in world leader Norway.