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EVs take center stage: A crucial issue in the Biden vs. Trump 2024 presidential election

Welcome back to the latest episode of The Future of Automotive on CBT News, where we put recent automotive and mobility news into the context of the broader themes impacting the industry.

I’m Steve Greenfield from Automotive Ventures, and I’m glad that you could join us.

An article in the Washington Post this week underscores just how important electric vehicles will be to this year’s presidential elections in general, and the Biden/Trump presidential debates in particular.

It’s hard to believe that we’re just over 5 months away from the presidential election, and just days away from the first Biden/Trump debate.

It was just two years ago that Senate Democrats banded together to push through sweeping legislation aimed at combating climate change in part by speeding the transition to electric vehicles with tax credits and other incentives.

But now, facing a tough reelection climate in November, some Senate Democrats who are fighting for their political lives in red states are distancing themselves from aspects of President Biden’s EV policies as Republicans go on offense against Biden’s environmental agenda.

Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he will continue to rail against environmental issues in general, and EVs in particular. Trump has vowed to roll back Biden’s electric vehicle efforts and warned (quote/unquote) that “you’re not going to be able to sell those cars” if he becomes president.

The EV issue is such a hot topic, because it combines several potent political ingredients — China, class warfare and what the GOP will probably describe as a spending spree by Congress. The policy’s defenders point out the EV transition is crucial to slowing the worst effects of climate change and note the tens of millions of dollars of investment in EV-related factories in the United States, which should create high-paying manufacturing jobs.

It is an easy attack line for Trump, however, who called the Biden regulations “ridiculous” in a recent meeting with oil industry executives from whom he asked to raise $1 billion for his campaign.

At a rally in Las Vegas earlier this month, Trump went on a lengthy rant against electric-powered boats, saying he would have trouble knowing what to do if the boat was sinking in shark-infested waters. “Do I get electrocuted if the boat is sinking, water goes over the battery, the boat is sinking? Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted, or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted?” he asked. “I’ll take electrocution every single time,” he said. “I’m not getting near the shark.”

Last week, Trump told Senate Republicans behind closed doors he would “get rid of” Biden’s “disastrous” EV policy if he’s elected president.

Last month the Biden administration announced steep new tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles.

In Ohio, an auto manufacturing state where cars are core to politics, former auto dealer Bernie Moreno has criticized the “manic” move to EVs, saying it could destroy the auto industry.

Many of the EV tax credits passed in the Inflation Reduction Act have gone to buyers in California and on the coasts, furthering the difficulty of selling the plan to red states. Republicans and some Democrats have also argued that the Biden administration has been too permissive of China-made battery parts making up the vehicles, while Republicans plan to argue that lawmakers authorized billions in spending in the legislation without meaningfully lowering inflation.

Trump’s constant demonization of the vehicles — “MAY THEY ROT IN HELL,” he wrote of EV supporters in a Truth Social post last Christmas — have only served to make EVs more unpopular among Republicans.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans on EVs is staggering. More than 61 percent of Democrats said they believed their friends would think it was a “smart move” if they bought an EV, compared with just 19 percent of Republicans.

Maybe we should all get our buzzword bingo cards ready for this first upcoming debate to see how many times the words “EV” and “China” are mentioned by each candidate. My bet is that the issue is going to get a LOT of airtime.

May the fireworks begin!

So, with that, let’s transition to Our Companies to Watch.

Every week we highlight interesting companies in the automotive technology space to keep an eye on. If you read my weekly Intel Report, we showcase a company to watch, and take the opportunity here to share that company with you.

Today, our new company to watch is TERN AI.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the most critical systems of our modern world rely on GPS, from aviation and road networks to emergency and disaster response, from precision farming and power grids to weather forecasting and military defense.

But, in some ways, this critical dependence is becoming a problem.

We’ve got an increased threat from foreign adversaries who have shown capabilities to jam, to destroy, to spoof the signals of GPS, which is scary.

Tern AI, a startup that just came out of stealth mode in February, has come up with a so-called Independently Derived Positioning System (or IDPS instead of GPS) that can recognize the position of a vehicle or person without relying on satellite signal. That means no threat of jamming, construction or dead zones getting in the way of a precise position.

The current system works by having GPS receivers in cars or phones pick up signals from satellites orbiting Earth. The signals contain satellite information and the precise time that the signals are sent. The GPS receivers then use the time it took for each signal to travel to calculate the distance to each satellite. By triangulating the distances, the receiver can determine its exact position, which is then displayed on apps like Google Maps or Waze.

Tern AI’s IDPS, however, is powered by an AI model that ingests vehicle and phone sensor data in real time, as well as third-party map data, to provide a consistent and precise position. This model can be downloaded as a software package to a compatible vehicle’s infotainment system. If the vehicle isn’t compatible, the system can be downloaded to a smartphone. Tern’s model can use phone sensor data to help determine a position, but in some cases, the smartphone will need to pull car sensor data from the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics port.

Tern AI’s biggest selling point is that it uses AI to parse through sensor data, like speed and motion sensors, that are already available on smartphones and vehicles. Tern doesn’t rely on computer vision and cameras to help it determine positioning.

Tern’s IDPS can position vehicles within 4 meters of accuracy.

If you’d like to learn more about TERN AI you can check them out at

So that’s it for this week’s Future of Automotive segment. 

If you’re an AutoTech entrepreneur working on a solution that helps car dealerships, we want to hear from you. We are actively investing out of our DealerFund.

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Don’t forget to check out my book, “The Future of Automotive Retail,” which is available on And keep an eye out for my new book, “The Future of Mobility”, which is almost done, and will be out soon.

Thanks (as always) for your ongoing support and for tuning into CBT News for this week’s Future of Automotive segment. We’ll see you next week!

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Steve Greenfield
Steve Greenfield
Steve is the Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an automotive technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies. They also assist PE firms to conduct due diligence on automotive technology acquisitions, advise technology CEOs on strategy, and help represent sellers at the time of sale.

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