Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday recognized Tesla as a pioneer in the manufacture of electric vehicles in the United States.
“We admire the range of American companies that have innovated, including Tesla, which has done so much to make electric vehicles possible in America,” Buttigieg said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“Now it’s common. Previously, in an era when US tax credit policy supported companies like Tesla, it wasn’t seen as a safe bet,” he added.
Buttigieg’s acknowledgment of this role in American innovation comes a day after President Joe Biden publicly spoke about Tesla for the first time in his presidency, calling the California-based company “our nation’s largest electric vehicle maker.” .
Biden has previously reportedly been reluctant to note Tesla’s market-leading position due to the union-busting stance of its chief executive, Elon Musk. Tesla’s factory workforce is not unionized, and Musk has pushed back against organizing efforts within the company.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act in November, which includes tax incentives of up to $12,500 for buyers of union-made U.S. electric vehicles, though the bill won’t was not passed by the Senate. Musk has previously accused the president of being “controlled by unions”.
The Biden administration angered Musk fans last August when it invited General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler — the largest employers of United Auto Workers members — to the White House last year. last for a discussion of electric vehicles and snubbed Tesla. These automakers recently announced a litany of major investments in electric vehicles, as they seek to snatch market share from Musk’s company.
Tesla is the dominant player in the US electric vehicle market and the world’s most valuable automaker, with its market capitalization exceeding $1 trillion at the end of last year; it has since retreated and stood at around $933.5 billion on Wednesday. Tesla delivered nearly one million vehicles worldwide in 2021, an 87% increase over the previous year.
Asked about any union-related grievances the president might have against Tesla, Buttigieg replied, “We believe in good-paying jobs and we believe unions built the middle class.”
In general, the United States has a critical role to play in the transition to electric vehicles, Buttigieg added.
“Again, there is no doubt that automobiles are going electric. The question is, ‘Will we get there in time? Will it be made in America? “”, Did he declare.