President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk to his Strategic and Policy Forum. Musk was also invited to a special meeting with the President-elect, a Tech Summit, at Trump Tower, last week. Further piquing the media’s curiosity, Musk was said to have been invited to another, much more intimate meting, with Trump and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook after the summit.
Political and business observers seem to be unanimous about the significance of these moves by Trump. Firstly, Musk’s appointment to the advisory body and his participation in the Tech Summit underline the importance of Tesla, SpaceX and Musk’s solar business in the respective industries.
Secondly, it looks like Donald Trump is indeed keeping an open mind on climate change, as he stated in an interview for the New York Times.
Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, the move demonstrates that job creation is indeed a top priority for the future administration – Musk has a brilliant track record as an employer, having created 30,000 jobs already, 25,000 of which have been in the U.S., and planning to add another 3,000 soon to its Fremont car factory.
The implications of Musk’s appointment, however, are much more far-reaching. In fact, the attention given him by the President-elect and his transition team suggests that Trump is ready to make peace with the renewables industry despite what he said more than once about climate change on the campaign trail.
The truth, which the President-elect seems to be aware of, is that there is no going back on electric vehicles. The fact that he invited Musk to his Tech Summit is a demonstration of this awareness. Whatever Trump’s stance on fossil fuels, he seems to have realized EVs have their own place in the larger scheme of things, especially in light of his pledge to help the U.S. tech business “keep going with the incredible innovation.”
The fact that as part of this incredible innovation Tesla’s Model 3 alone can take out 300,000 bpd of gasoline from U.S. daily demand by 2035 seems to be of no concern. First, 2035 is far in the future and second, until then the energy industry will be sure to have found a way to cope with the EV trend. Related: Trump’s Oil Price Dilemma
The EV revolution is being led by four companies in the U.S. – Tesla, Uber, Alphabet, and Apple. All four CEOs were at the Tech Summit. It’s unlikely that Donald Trump or his team are unaware that Alphabet just spun off its self-driving electric car project into a separate company, Waymo; that Uber is already offering ride-sharing services using EVs in London; and that Apple is working on its own EV, the iCar.
These are developments that could represent the meeting point between two of Trump’s priorities: supporting business in general and the mining industry specifically.
The EV revolution will boost demand for lithium like nothing else, whatever skeptics are saying. Government support for this revolution will make this demand boost all the greater. In short, it’s a win-win situation for all parties concerned, and the green energy lobby could allow itself a small sigh of relief that maybe Trump’s presidency will not turn the U.S. into Fossil Fuel Hell on earth.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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