October 25, 2019 / 1:07 AM / 23 days ago

Senate Democrat Schumer proposes plan to swap gas cars for electric vehicles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, late on Thursday proposed a $454 billion plan over 10 years to help shift the United States away from gasoline-powered vehicles by offering cash vouchers to help Americans buy cleaner vehicles.

FILE PHOTO: Commuters navigate early morning traffic as they drive towards downtown in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo/File Photo

Schumer said in a statement that his plan, which would provide rebates of $3,000 or more to individual buyers, would help transition 25% of the U.S. fleet, or 63 million vehicles, away from traditional internal combustion-engine vehicles within 10 years.

The plan would be key to reducing the impact of climate change, Schumer said, noting that the transportation sector accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon output.

The plan would award $392 billion in subsidies for owners of gasoline-powered vehicles at least eight years old and in driving condition to trade them in for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell cars, the statement said. The old vehicles would be scrapped.

The proposal comes as both Democrats and Republicans are looking to win the support of auto workers in key Midwestern swing states who could be key to determining if President Donald Trump is re-elected and who controls Congress in the November 2020 elections.

Car buyers would get rebates ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 or more, plus another $2,000 for low-income buyers for the purchase of U.S.-made vehicles, Schumer said.

The plan would “reduce the number of carbon-emitting cars on the road, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and accelerate the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century,” Schumer said.

It would adopt rules similar to the 2009 $3 billion “Cash for Clunkers” plan that sought to stimulate U.S. auto sales.

Schumer’s proposal would provide $45 billion for additional EV charging stations and $17 billion in incentives for automakers to build new factories or retool existing ones to assemble zero-emission vehicles or charging equipment with a goal that by 2040 “all vehicles on the road should be clean.”

In August 2018, the Trump administration proposed rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency requirements through 2026, and its “preferred option” would increase U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels a day. The administration is expected to finalize its proposal by the end of this year.

Schumer said his proposal has the support of environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, and the League of Conservation Voters and labor unions.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N), which are both spending billions to develop electric vehicles, said they appreciated Schumer’s efforts, with GM praising the effort to “advance electrification through much-needed infrastructure investments, consumer incentives and promotion of American electric vehicle manufacturing.”

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones said in a statement that the Schumer proposal “honors the sweat and sacrifice of American autoworkers by investing in domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles and incentivizing high quality jobs across the auto supply chain.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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