What the IRA Means to the Auto Industry

By Gary S. Vasilash

According to the U.S. Energy Dept., the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is “the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history.”

And in the automotive space, the IRA means a continuation of tax credits for consumers who buy electric vehicles (up to $7,500, though the math gets tricky) and even for OEMs and other companies that get into the business of making batteries.

Blue Oval City, the $5.6-billion, 3,600-acre campus for EV and battery production Ford is building in Stanton, Tennessee. (Image: Ford)

As for that battery money:

It provides tax credits of $35 per kWh for the cells. And if another company organizes those cells into battery modules, it gets $10 per kWh. So if there are two companies involved and they each produce portions for a 100-kWh battery for an EV, then the cell manufacturer would get $3,500 and the module maker $1,000. And if a single company did both, then that’s $4,500.

So if you wonder why vehicle manufacturers are investing billions in battery plants (like Ford’s recent $3.5-billion announcement) perhaps that makes it even more understandable.

Not only do they make money by selling vehicles, but they also make money by producing the batteries that go into those vehicles.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we’re joined by Devin Lindsay, who is responsible for Alternative Propulsion forecasting at S&P Global Mobility, Mark Barrott, principal with Plante Moran’s strategy and automotive practice, and Mike Martinez, who covers Ford for Automotive News.

The topic is the multi-billion dollar effect of the IRA on the automotive industry.

The IRA is essentially industrial policy. The aforementioned tax credits that consumers can receive are only possible if the vehicle in question not only falls below a price cap, but if the vehicle’s manufacturing—including the batteries—has sufficient domestic content. This puts companies that do make electric vehicles but don’t make them in the U.S. (think Audi, for example) at a competitive disadvantage.

While an objective is to make EVs more accessible to more people—right now EVs account for 5.6% of the market—it isn’t entirely clear that the 50% mark that the Biden Administration hopes to achieve by 2030 (and that several OEMs seem to be capacitizing themselves to provide) will happen: Do consumers really want EVs?

These and other questions are explored on the show.

And you can see it here.