Trump administration being sued by 23 states over fuel standards

Donald Trump tells American car workers their jobs will be obsolete within two years

Vote-winning bluster from Trump, or is there some basis in the truth?

American presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has made an extraordinary claim that people who work on traditional car production lines will be “out of business” within two years, thanks to the shift to electric vehicles (EVs).

The former president, who running for office again despite facing criminal charges relating to alleged meddling in the 2020 election, made his statement to striking union automotive industry workers in the US, as he ultimately seeks a second term in office from next year as the Republican Party’s preferred candidate.

Speaking at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township, close to Detroit in Michigan — a state which is one of the key battlegrounds for the 2024 presidential election — Trump claimed that whatever deal striking production line workers secured during ongoing negotiations with their big car maker employers, it was irrelevant given the advent of electric vehicles.

“It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what you get because in two years you’re all going to be out of business,” he said.

Trump is taking the stand as part of his election campaign, promising to protect the jobs of blue-collar workers in the US auto industry in an effort to win votes. He told the assembled staff at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionised car-parts supplier: “A vote for President Trump means the future of the automobile will be made in America.”

Whether his attempted vote-winning rhetoric has any foundation in truth or not is a moot point, as workers on the production lines of traditional internal-combustion vehicles the world over face fears of being rendered obsolete by the inevitable shift to EVs.

However, it is widely believed that skilled workers — of the type involved in the production of cars with engines — could easily be retrained to build EVs, thus safeguarding jobs.

Trump opted to make his statements at Drake, despite the fact that he is not the chosen candidate for the Republicans for 2024 yet. Nevertheless, he is by far the favourite to secure the nomination.

His bombastic speech came as his key rivals in the battle to become the Republican candidate for 2024 were onstage thousands of miles away in California for the second primary debate; an event Trump shunned.

Biden walks the picket lines

How will the presidential election affect America’s automotive landscape?

Trump’s visit to the auto supplier also came the day after incumbent Biden became the first president in US history to walk a picket line, joining United Auto Workers (UAW) in Detroit as they push for higher wages, shorter working weeks and assurances from the main car makers in the US that new EV jobs will be unionised.

And Trump’s words clearly struck a chord with the crowd at Drake, with the company’s president Nathan Stemple also saying that his business — which makes heavy-duty truck components — would be “crippled” by the shift to EVs.

Union workers were a key part of Trump’s surprise election victory in 2016, so it is no surprise he is seeking to use the automotive strike action in an attempt to alienate Biden in the eyes of such voters.

Trump took former democratic strongholds — such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — seven years ago by promising to resurrect “rust belt” manufacturing towns. President Biden recaptured the same states four years later, dubbing himself the “most pro-union president” and playing up his working-class roots.

Green jobs v Trump’s doom-mongering

Biden favours green energy and EV manufacturing, and has made investments during his administration that he says will ensure the future of the car industry — electric or otherwise — will be strong in the US.

However, in his speech at Drake, Trump said the car industry in the country was “being assassinated” and claimed that Biden’s focus on EVs would lead to lost jobs, adding: “He’s selling you out to China, he’s selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left, people who have no idea how bad this is going to be for the environment.”

Meanwhile, the UAW that is striking in Detroit has withheld its endorsement for Biden’s campaign this time around, having previously backed him in 2020.

But, at the current president’s visit to the picket lines, UAW president Shawn Fain was at President Biden’s side and said of Trump: “I don’t think he cares about working-class people. I think he cares about the billionaire class; he cares about the corporate interests. I think he’s just trying to pander to people and say what they want to hear, and it’s a shame.”

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