EPA’s Latest Plan Aims to Increase Electric Vehicle Sales to 2/3 by 2032

EPA’s Latest Plan Aims to Increase Electric Vehicle Sales to 2/3 by 2032

As has been expected for a few weeks now, the EPA laid out a proposal on Wednesday to dramatically curb the CO2 emissions of passenger cars and medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in the U.S. The rule puts such severe limits on tailpipe emissions that if enacted, it will effectively mandate that 67 percent of passenger cars sold new in the U.S. will be zero-emissions by 2032.

It’s a dramatic step above President Biden’s previously stated goal of achieving 50-percent zero-emission passenger car sales-including battery EVs, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles-by 2030. It would also represent a huge jump in EV sales, which accounted for just 5.6 percent of new-car sales in the U.S. last year. The proposed rule on medium-duty trucks mandates that 46 percent of sales be zero-emission by 2032, while this figure is 25 percent for heavy-duty trucks.

If enacted as proposed, these new rules would come into effect in 2027, with target tailpipe emissions decreasing every year for the next five years. The EPA can’t directly mandate that automakers sell a certain percentage of EVs, but it can put in such strict standards for corporate fleet average emissions-the average tailpipe emissions across an automaker’s offerings-that selling a certain percentage of EVs is the only way to achieve the target. On average, Automotive News reports, the rule mandates a 13-percent decrease in passenger-car fleet emissions for the five years the rule covers.

The EPA says this will contribute to a 56-percent reduction in passenger-car fleet average emissions compared with current targets for 2026. It also says these new standards would avoid 10 billion tons of C02 emissions, double the total emissions produced by the U.S.-the second largest-polluting nation in the world behind China-last year.

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” said EPA head Michael S. Regan in a statement. “These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness.”

The proposed rules are contentious among both automakers and the United Auto Workers, the labor union that represents workers at Ford, GM, and Stellantis. As the New York Times reports, the Biden administration initially planned to announce these new EPA rules in Detroit, at an event featuring American-made EVs, but as automaker and UAW unease grew around the proposed standards, the event was moved to the EPA headquarters in Washington.

“We’re very mindful that this is a proposal, and we want to give as much flexibility possible,” Regan told the Times.

The EPA plans to hold a virtual public hearing on these rules on May 9 and 10, and additionally will hold a hearing on proposed heavy-duty vehicle rules a week earlier. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group for domestic and foreign automakers, pushed back on the proposals in a memo last week.

Speaking to the Times, Alliance for Automotive Innovation president John Bozzella said this rule represents “nothing short of a complete transformation of the automotive industrial base and the automotive market.”

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