President Donald Trump claimed support for electric cars during the presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden and appeared to take credit for the federal EV tax credit implemented during the Obama administration.

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election was held tonight, and while it’s not something that we would normally cover, there was a small item about our industry: electric vehicles.

When talking about climate change, President Trump refused to acknowledge the climate crisis and instead focused only on air and water quality.

However, he also briefly mentioned that he supports electric cars:

I’m all for electric cars.

Then Trump quickly claimed:

I’ve given big incentives to electric cars.

It’s unclear which EV incentives he is referring to since the only federal incentive is an IRS tax credit for plug-in and all-electric vehicles.

But that program was not implemented by the Trump administration.

It dates back to the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) under the Obama administration, when Joe Biden was vice president. It greatly expanded on another plug-in car initiative signed into law by President George W. Bush.

In fact, the Trump administration attempted to eliminate the tax credit for electric vehicles in the original version of their 2020 budget, though the provision never passed.

Furthermore, Trump has been actively seeking to roll back vehicle emission standards that were encouraging automakers to produce more electric cars.

During the debate, Trump briefly commented on that initiative and claimed that it’s not true that the rollback of the standards will result in more emissions:

Not really because what’s happening is that the car is now much less expensive and it’s a much safer car, and you are talking about a tiny difference. And then what would happen, because of the cost of the car you would have at least double or triple the number of cars purchased.

On the other hand, Biden’s plan for electric cars includes significant investments in charging infrastructure and updating government vehicle fleets to electric vehicles in order to increase demand.

Electrek’s Take

I am not trying to start a big political discussion here, but Trump’s statement warranted a fact check since I received many messages from people asking what he meant by his comment on electric cars.

I think we can unequivocally say that the Trump administration hasn’t “given big incentives” for electric cars and that it has generally tried to negatively impact the growth of electric vehicles.

There have been moments where the administration has made positive comments on EVs, but actions speak louder than words, and the actions have been negative.

I don’t think I am saying anything controversial with that, but I am sure it will not be taken well by many. If you have to comment on this below, please do it politely.

To quote Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

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