My take: Auto industry an overlooked driver of the state’s economy

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A newly built database from an industry group provides interesting insights into a significant piece of the Delaware economy.

It comes as the United Auto Workers stages a walkout at selected domestic automakers’ plants as the industry transitions toward electric vehicles.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation’s  Economic Insights database showed the auto industry supports 18,777 jobs in Delaware, about 3.2 of the total workforce, an impressive number that comes a decade and a half after the last vehicles rolled off the assembly line at the state’s two auto plants. 

So far, electric vehicles represent only one-half of one percent of total registrations in the state, although the number is growing rapidly.

EVs accounted for about 4% of total vehicle sales in the previous year. That number might have been higher had supplies not been tight. 

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This year saw increased available EVs, with a few slow sellers sitting on dealer lots due to higher prices and limited battery range. Hefty discounts are available.

EV makers are also posting losses but are profiting from pent-up demand for popular gas-powered crossovers and pickups. 

In staging the walkout, the UAW is demanding a piece of those profits for its members. The UAW also cites government bailouts of two of the three domestic producers. 

The biggest beneficiary from the turmoil is Tesla, the low-cost EV leader. Teslas are common on the state’s highways as the EV maker dropped prices and forced others to follow along.

This fall, we’ll see if General Motors follows through with an announced price tag in the 30K range from its new Equinox EV crossovers. A petition drive has been launched to hold GM to that pledge after other EV makers did not stick to previous pricing. 

For example, Ford boosted the $40,000 base price on its F-150 Lightning pickup truck to $60,000, but more recently took $10,000 off that figure.

Meanwhile, Delawareans bought about 41,000 new vehicles last year at a total cost of $3.7 billion.

First State residents like their sport utility and crossover vehicles, with that category representing nearly 39% of the nearly one million registered vehicles in the state. That nearly matches the percentage of cars, with pickup trucks coming at 16 percent and vans representing the remainder.

The auto industry generates $1.7 billion in labor income a year. Exports of motor vehicles and parts totaled $1.2 billion. State tax revenues in Delaware from the auto industry total nearly $150 million a year. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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