What Will Happen To Electric Car Sales In A Trump Led America?


Like it or not, Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. What affect will that have on the auto industry? The first hint came this morning when General Motors announced it will idle 2000 third shift workers early in 2017. Is GM worried that people will buy fewer cars and trucks when Trump is in office? Not at all. The move is designed to give The General time to rejigger its assembly lines to build more gargantuan SUVs and pickup trucks. It’s “Drill, baby, drill” time in America.

electric cars and Trump

According to Green Tech Media, Trump is expected to decrease the power of the EPA and dismantle much of President Obama’s climate action program. Right now, the EPA’s CAFE regulations are scheduled for a full review to be completed in 2018. The automakers have been pushing back hard against further tightening of the standards. Since Trump says he will remove all “job-killing climate regulations,” we can expect those rules to be significantly softened if they continue to exist at all.

That means more and more larger, thirstier vehicles sucking up more fossil fuels and spewing out more pollutants. Apparently, that’s what most Americans want.

This might be a good time to load up on auto stocks. It’s time to party like its 1959 all over again. Kiss wimpy little 4 and 3 cylinder engines goodbye. It’s time to rediscover the magic of cubic inches and good old American V-8 power. The Obama administration just announced an initiative to increase EV charging infrastructure along the nations major highways. That plan could be stillborn.

Federal incentives for low and zero emissions cars could be on the chopping block. Carbon fees and tax breaks for renewable energy are endangered as well. President-elect Trump says government shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the market place. If fossil fuels are cheaper then let’s have more of them. Dig coal in Yellowstone. Frack the Grand Canyon. It’s all good as far as Trump is concerned.

The fact that fossil fuels enjoy trillions of dollars of indirect subsidies is far too abstract a concept for a man with the mental age of a 2 year old and the intelligence of Golden Retriever to comprehend. Untaxed externalities? That’s just some liberal gibberish designed to make life hard for Trump’s close personal friend Robert Murray.

Tesla Motors will continue to turn out compelling electric cars, but the rest of the industry may reduce their efforts to bring affordable electric cars to market if they can make more money  building pretty much the same cars they have been selling for generations. Electric car sales are at 1% of the new car market in the United States at the moment. There is no reason to expect that number to rise significantly while The Donald is in office.

Photo credit: Green Tech Media

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Optihuman

    In a weird way I think this will hurt any automaker who takes their eye off the EV market. Tesla is already light years ahead along with BYD. I can see the Europeans and Japanese getting in gear leaving the US makers flat footed when the explosion takes off. The big automakers laughed at Ford when he was first starting but he ended up crushing them all. Hubris and poor planning have killed many of companies.
    Although I loath Trump but I doubt he has much impact on EV’s at all.

    • Steve Hanley

      Good comment. Thanks.

      As you suggest, I see the American companies taking their eye off the ball and concentrating on gorging themselves on profits from pickups and SUVs. Then when the time comes to get serious about EVs, they will be frozen out — a day late and a dollar short.

      Could very well happen. Detroit has been particularly pig headed many times in the past.

      • Den Of PA

        I think many of the (surviving) US car companies have learned their lesson. The recurrent problem is that pickups & SUVs are profitable, research & development is expensive, but the cloud has a silver lining if fuel-fools subsidize EV development by buying over-priced gas guzzlers, financing a substantial & competitive expansion into overseas EV markets. As soon as those markets saturate or gas prices go back up, it will be a tidal wave of mature EVs hitting the US market.
        GM certainly has done a heck of a pivot with EVs, and if they don’t sell them here, they are certainly going to sell them overseas.

      • Ross

        The large number of reservations for the Tesla Model 3 suggests they should already be serious.

      • Mike J

        The new Trump Administration and most US car manufacturers are making a major miscalculation. It’s a global economy and just because the US will be led by a neanderthal with no understanding of science or economics doesn’t mean the rest of the world won’t be moving forward with the Paris Climate Agreement and EVs. BYD, Nissan, and post-diesellgate VW will be making and selling superior EVs to growing economies in China, India, etc. Furthermore, these world economies and Europe won’t do business with US industries if we back out of the Paris Agreement. I don’t think US corporations will sit by idly and let that happen.

  • Jason Willhite

    Just in case, Steve, go out and get that EV before anything crazy happens

    • bioburner

      I already got mine. just in time

  • floodzone

    Trump is the next president,the sun will still rise in the morning,i still wish we didnt burn oil and i still wish i had an ev. Trump is such a small grain of sand in the big picture.

    • Marc P

      Only hope is other countries and foreign car manufacturers won’t follow Trump’s idiocies and stay on course to battle climate change and embrace cleaner energy alternatives.

      Eventually, the US will have to play catch up with the rest of the world.

      Americans and their corporations will only have themselves to blame since they voted for the guy that helped them “Make America Obsolete Again” !

  • PeteDisqus321

    I’m so sorry

  • MrKevinSD

    My golden retriever is much smarter than trump. My golden also doesn’t appreciate being compared to a bigot.

    • Steve Hanley

      My apologies to your Golden, sir. I understand why he might have taken umbrage at my characterization. ; – )

  • Den Of PA

    Given the size of the Chinese auto market and their commitment to making EVs work, I’d expect US automakers to partner more with Chinese makers in developing the technology overseas. There’s plenty of opportunities outside of the US with lower demands on performance, so Trump’s short sightedness won’t necessary slow the revolution.

    • Cyclist

      This. The market is bigger than the US. US companies still compete in these countries. Please do not be the US centrist person that supports your hated new POTUS elect.

      • Den Of PA

        The US market is large, but the global auto market is larger, and if US automakers are to be competitive in 5 years they have to build & sell increasing numbers of EV’s now, either the US or overseas. The US market is very competitive on performance, but many overseas markets will accept lower performance (by US standards) while being a better match for EV’s unique advantages.
        Please do not be the myoptic US person who got us into this mess by ignoring the big picture.

    • Steve Hanley

      An excellent point. Trump cannot see beyond the end of his nose. He has no vision. He is for Donald 100% and the rest of us can piss off, as far as he is concerned. He is perhaps the biggest narcissist the world has ever known. Oh wait. Idi Amin might have had him beat.

  • Rick

    Hey, my golden retriever didn’t find that funny

  • jhlangerman

    God help us.

    • Steve Hanley

      Personally, I feel I am underwater and can’t reach the surface.

  • kevin mccune

    I didnt watch the election (couldnt vote anyway ) but I tell you I was mildly suprised when I learned Donald won the election , The way it played out made me feel sorry for the mislead folks that think now ,they will get their deserts.
    Keep pouring on the electrics the Dragon will want and need them,I was always surprised at the support my colleagues gave to the people that were keeping them down,I just looked at a pie chart of the US Economy and was very surprised that the biggest chunk went to healthcare ,really? and the sad thing is ,one major health catastrophe can put you into living in a cardboard box in a landfill somewhere,whats going on ?It really makes no sense to me ,the small gas tank on my daughters Civic still had almost a half tank,left (pretty accurate gauge too )after going over 300 miles ,while my 6 cylinder Dodge Dakota 4wd ,will almost burn a whole tank of fuel in that distance (much larger tank too ) I dont understand why people want to spend so much money on fuel.
    I think the Donald will have a reality check before much longer ,He may very well come to His senses,even though He lost the popular vote,the Electoral College elected Him,maybe the orientation meeting will set Him on a truer course , if He is indeed a smart man ,a man of principles ,perhaps He will see that the diversity of people isnt the problem ,but one solution .
    ( Cry for the Children )

  • Any auto industry executive who wants to keep her/his job realizes that regardless of the Federal policy, they’d better keep innovating into the BEV space or Tesla will absorb an ever-increasing share of the automobile market in this country. So even if Trump follows up his talk with actions relaxing regulations, the market will soon choose winners and they won’t be ICEs.