Americans have always been innovators — just take a look at our auto industry. From Henry Ford's horseless carriage to today's autonomous vehicles, we don't wait to see where the road takes us. Instead, we pave our own.
That's why last month I introduced bipartisan legislation with Sens. Lamar Alexander, Gary Peters and Susan Collins and Rep. Dan Kildee to keep the United States at the forefront of clean-vehicle technology.
By extending the tax credit for the purchase of electric and fuel cell vehicles, the Driving America Forward Act will help create good American jobs. It will help ensure that the United States is the global leader in advanced transportation technologies. And it will reduce carbon pollution and in the process combat climate change.
Here's how it works: Under current law, car buyers can receive a tax credit of up to $7,500 if they purchase an eligible electric vehicle. However, the tax credits begin to phase out once automakers sell more than 200,000 units.
The Driving America Forward Act maintains the $7,500 tax credit for the first 200,000 car buyers. It then allows buyers of an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible for a $7,000 tax credit. Consumers can receive the full value of a $7,000 credit through the calendar quarter after the 600,000th vehicle is sold. The act also extends the hydrogen fuel cell credit through 2028.
Extending this credit is important because two automakers — General Motors and Tesla Inc. — have already hit the 200,000-unit cap. Meanwhile, demand for electric cars keeps growing, and by extending this tax credit, we will keep the momentum going.
That's good news for American workers. GM, Ford and FCA US are all investing in electric vehicle factories in Michigan. Tesla is building batteries near Reno, Nev., and Mercedes-Benz will soon be doing the same in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Now is not the time to take our foot off the accelerator. China is rapidly expanding battery and vehicle production. In fact, it built almost twice as many electric vehicles as we did between 2010 and 2017. Maintaining this important tax incentive is a step we can take to ensure that the United States remains a leader in producing the next generation of advanced vehicles.
Supporting the development of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is also an important way to combat climate change. The transportation sector is the largest source of emissions in the United States. Yet by replacing just one gasoline-powered car with an electric one, we can keep 3.3 fewer tons of CO2 out of the air and burn 480 fewer gallons of gasoline every year, cutting air pollution by up to 70 percent.
Imagine the difference hundreds of thousands of green vehicles would make! That's why more than 60 groups as diverse as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Lung Association and The Nature Conservancy support our legislation.
When we face issues as large and complex as global climate change, it would be easy to focus on the challenges rather than the opportunities. But that's just not who we are.
Instead, let's be innovators. Let's create good American jobs, keep our nation at the forefront of technology and give car buyers more choices that help both people and our planet.