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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While President Trump is moving to ease Obama-era tailpipe emissions rules, Democrats running to unseat him want to accelerate the shift to electric cars, trucks and buses and take gasoline-powered vehicles off the market entirely.

Why it matters: The 2020 presidential race could produce two vastly different outcomes for the auto industry, and that regulatory whiplash is hampering carmakers' long-term investment decisions.

Here's a rundown of some of the policies Democratic candidates would use to push the country toward cleaner cars:

Emissions: Most of the candidates say they'll push for a "zero emissions economy" by 2050 or earlier, and a few have deadlines for electric vehicle adoption.

  • Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang both say their goal is 100% zero-emissions for all new vehicles by 2030.
  • Pete Buttigieg's targets are 2035 for ZEVs, and 2040 for heavy-duty trucks.

Consumer incentives: Many say they would extend tax breaks and offer trade-in discount programs to encourage people to replace their gasoline-powered car with a zero-emission vehicle.

  • The current $7,500 federal tax incentive for EVs phases out for each manufacturer after they sell 200,000 plug-in vehicles.
  • That policy favors early adopters not widespread use and puts Tesla and GM, who've hit the limit, at a pricing disadvantage as more EVs hit the market.
  • Buttigieg says he would increase the federal EV tax credit to $10,000 and phase it out after "a certain percentage of vehicles sold in the U.S. each year are EVs."

Charging infrastructure: Most candidates agree more charging stations are needed to support the shift to electric vehicles.

  • Joe Biden says he would add 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030.
  • Warren's plan is "widespread" charging stations, including at every federal interstate rest stop.
  • Yang and Buttigieg also say they'd invest in or provide incentives for public chargers to improve EV access for all.

Manufacturing incentives: The Democrats link vehicle electrification to U.S. manufacturing and jobs.

  • A spokesperson for Bernie Sanders says they would "create millions of jobs manufacturing clean, American-made electric vehicles."
  • Yes, but: Electric vehicles have fewer parts and are easier to build, meaning they require less labor. The United Auto Workers union is also worried that many electronic parts for EVs will come from outside the U.S.

But, but, but: Major pieces of the Democrats' plans, such as expanded EV tax credits and major new spending on charging infrastructure, would require congressional action.

  • Even if their most aggressive plans don't come to pass, the Democrats would likely reverse Trump's efforts to weaken efficiency and emissions rules.

The impact: "When you have these kinds of variables that are vital to [automakers'] product plans, they would at least like to know what direction to head in," IHS Markit analyst Devin Lindsay tells Axios.

The bottom line: American roads could look dramatically different in the future, depending on who's in the White House.

Read their fuller responses here.

Editor's note: This piece corrected the spelling of Andrew Yang's last name.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "I am not going to resign"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.

Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."

Facebook to lift political ad ban imposed after November election

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will finally allow advertisers to resume running political and social issue ads in the U.S. on Thursday, according to a company update.

The big picture: Facebook and rival Google instituted political ad bans to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around the presidential election and its aftermath.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
45 mins ago - Technology

AI is industrializing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Artificial intelligence is becoming a true industry, with all the pluses and minuses that entails, according to a sweeping new report.

Why it matters: AI is now in nearly every area of business, with the pandemic pushing even more investment in drug design and medicine. But as the technology matures, challenges around ethics and diversity grow.