By Lawrence Wilson
President Joe Biden further accelerated the nation’s switch to electric vehicles by announcing two proposed federal rule changes aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses and other pollutants in motor vehicle emissions.
The changes, announced April 12, would affect virtually all gasoline-powered vehicles on U.S. highways, would save consumers an estimated $12,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of a vehicle, and avoid almost 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2055, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The move aims to further the president’s goal of having 50 percent of all new cars and light trucks and 30 percent of new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in 2030 be zero-emission vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) are considered zero-emission vehicles.
The EPA estimates that approval of these rules would result in 67 percent of new passenger vehicles and light trucks would be EVs by 2032, along with 50 percent of busses, 35 percent of short-haul freight tractors, and 25 percent of long-haul freight tractors.
Critics have claimed that the move will increase the price of new cars and was made without consideration of the ability of the nation’s supply chain to meet this demand.
The Biden administration has spent some $31 billion on the development of so-called clean transportation over the last two years, including the development of a network of EV charging stations, improving the supply chain for materials needed to produce EV batteries, and making loans to companies manufacturing EVs and components in the United States.
Meanwhile, American car manufacturers and a number of states have been voluntarily moving the market toward electric-powered vehicles.
General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis announced in 2021 that they would aim to reach EV sales of at least 40 percent of all new vehicle sales by 2030.
The rule change comes 10 months after six major automakers pledged to stop selling gas and diesel-powered cars worldwide by 2040.
In November 2021, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Jaguar Land Rover pledged to stop selling diesel-powered cars worldwide by 2040.
In 2022, the state of Washington followed California in announcing a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in the state by 2035.
Washington enacted a law in 2020 to follow California’s vehicle emissions standards. Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C. have also adopted California’s vehicle emission standards.
Republican lawmakers immediately criticized the announcement.
“First President Biden came for our gas stoves. Now he wants to ban the cars we drive,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“His misguided policies are hurting American families while helping China. The president’s disastrous energy transition is making us more reliant on our enemies while driving up prices for Americans. The ‘electrification of everything’ is not a solution. It’s a road to higher prices and fewer choices.”
“Today, the Biden administration made clear it wants to decide for Americans what kinds of cars and trucks we are allowed to buy, lease, and drive,” Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) wrote on Twitter.
She added that the Biden administration “did not consider that the average price of an electric vehicle was roughly $65,000 last year, more than the household income of 46 percent of American families.
Automakers around the world have announced plans to invest $1.2 trillion in creating EVs by 2030, according to the Alliance for Innovative Innovation. Yet even that may not be enough to meet the aggressive goals set by the Biden administration.
The number of charging stations is currently insufficient to meet demand, the Alliance noted in an April 6 statement. Of the nation’s 3,100 counties, 39 percent had no chargers installed as of 2022, and 63 percent had five or fewer.
Minerals needed to supply the battery market may also be in short supply, according to the Alliance. North America is projected to produce only about 3.5 percent of the supply needed by 2030, which could increase dependence on China if the situation is not altered, the statement said.
Automakers are committed to the shift to EVs, the Alliance stated, but how fast that shift will happen largely depends on factors outside their control.
“The question isn’t whether it can be done, it’s how fast can it be done … and how fast will depend almost exclusively on having the right policies and market conditions in place to achieve the shared goal of a net zero carbon automotive future,” the group stated.