Commerce Sec. Raimondo raises alarm about her 'national security concerns' with 'electric vehicles' manufactured in China

 February 25, 2024

President Joe Biden has been incessantly pushing a societal transition toward all-electric vehicles, despite robust criticism and legitimate concerns raised not just by his political opposition but also by top officials within his own administration.

That includes Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo who said in a recent interview that she has "national security concerns about electric vehicles," particularly those manufactured in China, and noted that the administration "probably" needed to do more to address that issue, Breitbart reported.

U.S. automakers warn of "existential threat" from Chinese-made EVs

The comments from Sec. Raimondo about her "national security concerns" about elective vehicles in general, but especially those of Chinese origin, came during an appearance Friday on CNBC's "Closing Bell: Overtime," during which she spoke with co-host Morgan Brennan about a range of different but related tech issues like artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, and semiconductor chips, among other things.

Brennan asked at one point about a recent report detailing how U.S. automakers -- Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis -- viewed Chinese-built electric vehicles as an impending "existential threat" to their market survivability once those Chinese EVs began to be sold in large quantities in the U.S.

That is largely because the Chinese EVs are built with cheap labor and inexpensive materials, but also because they are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, and thus are far more affordable for consumers than similar models built in the U.S.

Secretary has "national security concerns about electric vehicles"

"Stellantis’ CEO saying low-cost Chinese EVs are, going to be an 'existential problem,' just a few days ago," Brennan said. "We know Europe’s grappling with this problem. In the U.S., we already have a tariff on Chinese EV imports. Do more actions need to be taken?"

"Probably, yes. I share the concern," Raimondo replied. "By the way, I have national security concerns about electric vehicles. An electric vehicle has sensors and semiconductors. They know who’s driving it, where they’re driving, huge amounts of data. Chinese EVs on our road, is that data going back to Beijing in ways that undermine our national security? We’re looking hard at that."

"Additionally, what you say, listen, I have always maintained Americans can compete if there’s a level playing field. And you have a situation where China is distorting the market dynamics due to subsidies and low costs of capital," she continued.

"And so, I know the president is deeply concerned about both of these issues, and the administration is being thoughtful," the secretary added. "We want to get it right, but have our eye, certainly, on the ball of thinking about what can we do, what must we do to protect Americans."

"Do we want all that data going to Beijing?"

It was just a few weeks earlier that Sec. Raimondo raised similar national security concerns about Chinese EVs during an Atlantic Council event in late January that was largely focused on strengthening the economic ties between the U.S. and the European Union.

In discussing some of the shared national security concerns between the U.S. and E.U., Raimondo said, "Electric vehicles we have to keep our eye on. The number of Chinese-made electric vehicles being sold in Europe today is vastly more than even a year or two years ago. Why is that? What is really going on in China? How is the government subsidizing the whole ecosystem?"

"That’s a trade distortion. Separately, there’s a national security distortion," she continued. "Tesla is not allowed -- you can’t drive a Tesla on certain parts of Chinese roads, they say for national security reasons. Well, think about that. What are the national security concerns -- forget about trade, OK? Forget about trade. Forget about tariffs. Forget about the economics of it. I’m just talking national security."

"A sophisticated EV, and then an autonomous vehicle, is filled with thousands of semiconductors and sensors," the secretary said. "It collects a huge amount of information about the driver, the location of the vehicle, the surroundings of the vehicle. Do we want all that data going to Beijing?"

"So I think that that’s just one example, EVs. You could ask the same questions about semiconductors, many of which are made in China," she added. "We had a session about that this morning; same thing. US and European interests, economically, but even more importantly national security, are really intertwined. And the way you do it -- AI, CHIPS, quantum, EVs -- together."

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