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January 24, 2018

ICYMI: Inhofe Questions Witnesses in Commerce Hearing about Automotive Innovation

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Space and Technology, questioned witnesses in a Commerce Hearing entitled “Driving Automotive Innovation and Federal Policies.” Witnesses included Mr. Luke Schneider, President of Audi Mobility U.S.; Mr. Michael Mansuetti, President of Robert Bosch LLC; Dr. Randy Avent, Professor at Florida Polytechnic University; and Tim Kentley-Klay, Co-Founder and CEO of Zoox.

Click to watch Sen. Inhofe’s remarks.

 Key Excerpts

 Inhofe: Since we’re at an auto show, I want to highlight an issue that is concern to me and perhaps to others who are here today, which we don’t talk much about. The fact that federal policy is stacked against liquid fuels. This year’s auto show is debuting the most electric vehicles ever, but electric vehicles don’t even make up one percent of the nation’s auto sales and auto manufacturers are producing more and more of them, of course, why? As Merrill Mathews, a scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation, puts it “car makers are building cars and trucks the government wants their consumers to have and that means electrical vehicles.” In 1975, Congress created a law to help with the fuel shortage situation by establishing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standards. We no longer have a fuel shortage issue, but that didn’t stop the Obama Administration and California from ensuring standards kept increasing beyond the technology—what they can do to force their electric car fantasies on the rest of us. But, consumers want trucks and SUV’s. They make up two-thirds of the vehicles sold. Yet, these vehicles don’t help automakers meet current DOT and EPA regulations, so they make more and more electrics to lower the overall mileage at a significant loss. Additionally, taxpayers are on the hook for up to $7,500 per electric or hybrid vehicle sold today in the form of tax credits. When Hong Kong ended their tax credit, the sales dropped significantly, which goes to show you that people want to make their own decisions. So, as electric vehicles are forced on to the U.S. consumer, the liquid fuel industries—now, I’m talking about oil and gas an ethanol—will be wondering why their government abandoned them in pursuit of the California dream. The federal government should not in be in the business of dictating to consumers what type of cars they should have or creating winners and losers. So, this is the first question: Do you believe the federal government should be in the business of dictating to consumers cars they should and shouldn’t have and creating winners and losers?

 We’ll start with you, Mr. Klay, yes or no?

 Klay: No.

Inhofe: Good. How about you, Doctor?

 Avent: No.

 Mansuetti: So, the question of the government picking winners and losers, that was your main question? Yep, no.

 Schneider: Do we have time? Go ahead. On the issue of level playing fields and the government picking winners and losers, we believe the consumer should have the choice.

 Inhofe: Good for you. I think that’s very good—all of you—I’m proud of you. 

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