Washington — Chris Smith, a newcomer to the automotive industry, says the debate about electric vehicles should be more about products, not politics.
EVs are “not partisan,” Smith said. They are “great products that American consumers want”.
As Ford Motor Company’s Chief Government Affairs Officer (his first role in the automotive industry), Smith said that one challenge his team faces is people, whether consumers or policy makers. Says that is to change the way we think about EVs. Mainstream.
“There is a past that saw electric cars as expensive toys or compromised compliance vehicles,” he said. “Ford is taking a different approach.”
Dearborn, Michigan automaker plans to build 2 million EVs worldwide by 2026, accounting for 40-50% of global sales All electricity by 2030..
Smith, Adopted in March He has worked in the energy sector for over a decade, including positions at the US Department of Energy during the Obama administration and, more recently, at Cheniere Energy, a liquefied natural gas operator, to take over the industry veteran and lobbyist Mitch Bainwol.
Smith, 54, sat with staff reporter Audrey La Forest at Ford’s Washington office to discuss his new role and the car maker’s EV strategy. Here is the edited excerpt.
Q: Q: This is my first time working at an automobile manufacturer. What do you think so far?
A: This is a new space for me as I spent my entire career on energy, but being here in Ford is a really exciting time. One of the epiphanies after being here for a while is an incredible period of change and transition, so the big challenge is new to everyone. The company has undergone more changes in its long history. Many of my premortal energy issues, both in the private and public sectors when I was in the Ministry of Energy, convey the challenges here. It’s about supply chains and business models, customers, and all policy drivers that enable these large-scale transitions.
Many things are different and unique, but again, many of the things that are different and unique to me are all because the United States is experiencing the dramatic transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles for the first time. Is different and unique to the people of. We really think it will be the future of transportation. That means it needs to be Ford’s future.
How will your energy experience be reflected in Ford’s electrification promotion?
I feel like I’m still fine. I was pushed further downstream because many of the challenges here deal with the same overall meta-challenge that must be considered when thinking about energy sustainability and future directions. It empowers our industry, how we make things, how we create jobs, how we move people and things. Comprehensive challenges are similar in many respects. How does the supply chain work? Where do the materials come from? How do you create a business model that helps you?
After all, if we don’t do something, we can’t succeed in what we need to achieve without making great products and providing great services that serve our customers.
What is the role of the federal government in the transition?
Given the major changes the United States has experienced, there will be a role for government to play. We believe in products, so we have set really ambitious and positive goals for ourselves. We believe in American workers who make these cars every day. We believe in engineering prowess. We are very enthusiastic about the capabilities of the vehicle itself, but it is important to work with policy makers to ensure that US companies are building a competitive environment. We have the opportunity to win the future here, but there are times when we need to work with policy makers to get to the right place.
In June, Ford joined the CEOs of other automakers and urged Congressional leaders to raise the current $ 7,500 tax credit limit of 200,000 units per automaker for consumers buying eligible EVs. .. What is at stake if Congress does not act?
It’s a dynamic time. One of the things I blame is to make predictions about what Congress can do next because I don’t know. We know what we need and what we think the American industry needs is consistent. We are working hard, but the penetration rate is currently relatively low. I am very bullish about our future here. Because if you put this vehicle next to a traditionally driven vehicle, they’re just great vehicles. It has a new level of functionality and a new level of performance. However, some support is needed for infrastructure. We need the right policies to push us in the right direction. And we need to make sure that our government is supporting the US industry in the same way that foreign governments are supporting their industry. We must be able to compete.
One of the things you want to see in our communication is that we are consistent. I think EV tax credits are important. We believe it is important not only for Ford, but also for US automakers and US industry. We will continue to promote policies that we believe are good not only for Ford and Ford consumers, but also for America’s competitiveness, job creation and the economy. The future will be an electric car. We have a great opportunity to make sure that the future is designed, manufactured and manufactured here in the United States.
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