Biden kicks off EV push with South Carolina plant ‘tour’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will virtually tour a South Carolina electric bus and battery manufacturing plant on Tuesday as the White House touts his proposal to boost the production of zero-emission buses and cars.

Biden will tour a facility of U.S. electric bus manufacturer Proterra. He has proposed spending $20 billion to electrify at least 20 percent of school buses and $25 billion to electrify some transit vehicles as part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan. In total, Biden has proposed a $174 billion boost for EVs, including $100 billion in consumer rebates.

The White House’s push to electrify vehicles comes as China has dominated the world electric bus market. But Proterra estimates 50 percent of all new North American-built buses in 2025 will be electric.

The U.S. has over 475,000 school buses and 65,000 transit buses and most run on diesel fuel, the White House said. Biden “made a commitment that all American-made buses would be zero-emission by 2030,” but it is not clear if he would seek to ban the sale of non-zero-emission buses.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday toured a Thomas Built Buses facility in North Carolina to tout the company’s electric bus manufacturing.

Burlingame, Calif.-based Proterra was founded by mechanical engineer Dale Hill in Golden, Colo., in 2004 and has provided hundreds of public transport buses to U.S. cities since inception.

The White House has declined to endorse setting a firm date like California has to phase out gasoline-powered passenger vehicles.

Proterra in January agreed to go public through a merger with ArcLight Clean Transition Corp. in a deal valued at $1.6 billion, including debt.

The company is going public through a merger with a blank-check company or special purpose acquisition company. SPACs are shell companies which raise money through an IPO of its shares to take another company public within two years.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

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