Kentucky's Democratic governor opposes Trump-led attacks on electric vehicles

FRANKFORT, Ky.– Electric vehicles have built enough momentum through job growth and investment to bypass any obstacles Donald Trump and other criticsKentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

The Democratic governor said the thousands of EV-related jobs emerging across the country, including in Republican Party strongholds nationwide, should be enough to overcome the political backlash against the technology.

“Jobs are so much more important than the political rhetoric that goes around day in and day out,” Beshear said during a sit-down interview with The Associated Press.

In the Bluegrass State, the emerging EV sector has been a major contributor to the state's record pace of economic growth. Since mid-2020, EV-related companies have announced nearly $12 billion in investments and are expected to create more than 10,200 full-time jobs. That includes the state's largest economic development project ever under construction, which will produce batteries to power future electric vehicles from Ford and Lincoln.

The governor dismissed the barrage of anti-EV attacks from former Republican President Trump and others as “just another attempt to divide people.”

“A lot of people have tried to fight the future, and none of them have ever won,” Beshear said. “The EV evolution or revolution is coming. The only question is how long will it take before we get here.”

The rise of electric vehicles has become a topic in the presidential campaign. Democratic President Joe Biden is promoting electric vehicles as a key part of his clean energy agenda. Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, has called Biden's push for electric cars a “radical plan” that amounts to government overreach. Meanwhile, Republican allies in the petroleum industry have spent millions on ads saying Biden's tax credit for EV buyers will cost Americans their freedom.

Beshear said Thursday that the attacks will not hinder Kentucky's EV sector. Since winning re-election last year, the governor has taken a more active role in promoting Democrats across the country. Beshear twice defeated Trump-backed candidates to win the governorship in Republican-leaning Kentucky.

“This is coming,” Beshear said of the EV industry. “It's already growing. And Kentucky is going to be a leader in this EV evolution… and it's exciting. And it's a huge number of jobs.”

“Ultimately, no matter who wins the presidential election, there will be so many jobs and so much investment that the EV sector will continue to grow,” he added.

GM CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday at the company's annual shareholder meeting that May was the electric vehicle company's best sales month ever. Spokesman David Caldwell declined to provide U.S. figures but said GM sold about 9,000 vehicles in North America last month. Previously, the best month was around 7,000, he said.

But the EV sector is still facing headwinds. A new poll indicates that many Americans remain skeptical of electric vehicles. About 4 in 10 American adults say they are at least somewhat likely to buy an EV the next time they buy a car, according to the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University's Energy Policy Institute of New York. Chicago. About 46% say they are not very likely or not at all likely to buy one.

Beshear said Thursday that the poll revealed encouraging signs for the EV sector. The number of adults who say they are at least somewhat likely to buy an electric car “is a great start as we look at the transition that we know is going to happen,” he said.

“So I don't view that as bad news at all,” Beshear added. “Four in 10 consumers is more than enough to support where we are as a state. But that will grow over time.”

Range anxiety—the idea that electric cars can't go far enough on a single charge and could leave a driver stranded—remains a major reason why many Americans don't buy electric vehicles. While ridiculing electric vehicles, Trump says “they don't go far enough and they're too expensive.”

In Kentucky, Beshear recently announced a third round of awards to private developers to build publicly funded EV charging stations. In total, the state has approved 42 charging stations from 11 developers to “provide reliable and convenient places to charge vehicles located every 50 miles along our highways and our parkways. This is just the beginning,” Beshear said at a recent news conference. That total does not include the charging stations others are building in the state.

Beshear predicted that electric vehicles will overcome concerns about charging and prices, as well as political attacks. And their availability will free motorists from anxiety about gas prices, he said.

“One of the things we see every day as we drive around is the price of gas,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

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