The Biden administration is proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require as many as two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032, a nearly tenfold increase over current electric vehicle sales.
The proposed regulation, announced Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, would set tailpipe emissions limits for the 2027 through 2032 model years that are the strictest ever imposed — and call for far more new EV sales than the auto industry agreed to less than two years ago.
If finalized next year as expected, the plan would represent the strongest push yet toward a once almost unthinkable shift from gasoline-powered cars and trucks to battery-powered vehicles.
Here’s a look at what the EPA is proposing, how the plan serves President Joe Biden’s ambitious goal to cut America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and whether the auto industry can meet the new EV targets:
What is the EPA proposing?
The proposed tailpipe pollution limits don’t require a specific number of electric vehicles to be sold every year, but instead they mandate limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on how automakers comply, the EPA projects that at least 60 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. would be electric by 2030 and up to 67 percent by 2032.
For slightly larger, medium-duty trucks, the EPA projects 46 percent of new vehicle sales will be EVs in 2032.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan called the proposal “the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks,” and he said it would reduce dangerous air and climate pollution and lower fuel and maintenance costs for families.
The agency will select from a range of options after a public comment period, Regan said. The rule is expected to become final next year…
…Is the EPA proposal realistic?
With electric vehicles accounting for just 7.2 percent of U.S. vehicle sales in the first quarter of this year, the industry has a long way to go to even approach the Biden administration’s targets. However, the percentage of EV sales is growing. Last year it was 5.8 percent of new vehicles sales.
Many auto industry analysts say it will be difficult for automakers to meet the projected sales percentage. The consulting firm LMC Automotive, for instance, said new EV sales could reach 49 percent in 2032 but are unlikely to go above that, citing high prices for EVs compared with gas-powered cars.
A new poll released Tuesday shows that many Americans aren’t yet sold on going electric for their next cars, with high prices and too few charging stations the main deterrents. Only 19 percent of U.S. adults say it’s “very” or “extremely” likely they will purchase an EV the next time they buy a car, while 22 percent say it’s somewhat likely. About half, 47 percent, say they are unlikely to go electric, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi said EV sales have tripled since Biden took office and the number of available EV models has doubled. Analysts have repeatedly revised their forecasts upward since Biden, a Democrat, took office, and the industry announced over $100 billion in EV investments, Zaidi told reporters Tuesday.
“The automakers have … technology and the infrastructure and supply chain to be able to achieve this with the lead time they’ve got,” Zaidi said.