Biden Seeks to Boost Fuel Economy 08/05 06:10
DETROIT (AP) -- The Biden administration wants automakers to raise gas
mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026, and it has
won a voluntary commitment Thursday from the industry that electric vehicles
comprise up to half of U.S. sales by the end of the decade.
The moves are big steps toward President Joe Biden's pledge to cut emissions
and battle climate change as he pushes a history-making shift in the U.S. from
internal combustion engines to battery-powered vehicles. They also reflect a
delicate balance to gain both industry and union support for the environmental
effort, with the future promise of new jobs and billions in new federal
investments in electric vehicles.
The administration on Thursday announced there would be new mileage and
anti-pollution standards from the Environmental Protection Agency and
Transportation Department. It said the auto industry had agreed to a goal that
40% to 50% of new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.
Both the regulatory standards and the voluntary target will be included in
an executive order that Biden plans to sign later Thursday.
The standards, which still have to go through the regulatory process
including public comments, would reverse fuel economy and anti-pollution
rollbacks done under President Donald Trump. At that time, the increases were
reduced to 1.5% annually through model year 2026.
The White House didn't release information on the proposed annual increases
late Wednesday, but Dan Becker, director of the safe climate campaign for the
Center for Biological Diversity, said an EPA official gave the numbers during a
presentation on the plan.
The official said the standards would be 10% more stringent than the Trump
rules for model year 2023, followed by 5% increases in each model year through
2026, according to Becker. That's about a 25% increase over the four years.
Last week, The Associated Press and other news organizations reported that
the Biden administration was discussing weaker mileage requirements with
automakers, but they apparently have been strengthened. The change came after
environmental groups complained publicly that they were too weak to address a
Transportation is the single biggest U.S. contributor to climate change.
Autos in the U.S. spewed 824 million tons (748 million metric tons) of
heat-trapping carbon dioxide in 2019, about 14% of total U.S. emissions,
according to the EPA.
The voluntary deal with automakers defines an electric vehicle as plug-in
hybrids, fully electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Environmental groups praised the higher standards but said the
administration should be moving faster.
"This proposal helps get us back on the road to cleaning up tailpipe
pollution," Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a
statement. "But given how climate change has already turned our weather so
violent, it's clear that we need to dramatically accelerate progress."
Scientists say human-caused global warming is increasing temperatures,
raising sea levels and worsening wildfires, droughts, floods and storms
"We urgently need to cut greenhouse gas pollution, and voluntary measures
won't cut it," Becker wrote in an email.
Several automakers already have announced similar electric vehicle sales
goals to those in the deal with the government. Last week, for instance, Ford's
CEO said his company expects 40% of its global sales to be fully electric by
2030. General Motors has said it aspires to sell only electric passenger
vehicles by 2035. Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, also pledged over 40%
electrified vehicles by 2030.
The Trump rollback of the Obama-era standards would require a projected 29
mpg in "real world" stop-and-start driving by 2026. It wasn't clear what the
real world mileage would be under the Biden standards. Under Obama
administration rules, it would have increased to 37 mpg.
Automakers said they would work toward the 40% to 50% electric vehicle sales
"You can count on Toyota to do our part," said Ted Ogawa, the company's
North America CEO.
General Motors, Stellantis and Ford said in a joint statement that their
recent electric-vehicle commitments show they want to lead the U.S. in the
transition away from combustion vehicles.
But they said the change is a "dramatic shift" from the U.S. market today,
and can only happen with a policies that include incentives for electric
vehicle purchases, adequate government funding for charging stations and money
to expand electric vehicle manufacturing and the parts supply chain.
The United Auto Workers union, which has voiced concerns about being too
hasty with an EV transition because of the potential impact on industry jobs,
did not commit to endorsing a 40% to 50% EV target. But UAW said it stands
behind the president to "support his ambition not just to grow electric
vehicles but also our capacity to produce them domestically with good wages and
Under a shift from internal combustion to electric power, jobs that now
involve making pistons, fuel injectors and mufflers will be supplanted by the
assembly of lithium-ion battery packs, electric motors and heavy-duty wiring
Many of those components are now built overseas, such as China. Biden has
made the development of a U.S. electric vehicle supply chain a key part of his
ambitious plan to create more auto industry jobs.
"We are in a global competition for who gets to make the clean cars of the
future, and President Biden's leadership means that we'll develop that
manufacturing and those supply chains right here in America," said Sen. Tom
Carper, D-Del., who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
He praised the announcement Thursday as "good news for our planet and our auto
In the infrastructure bill awaiting passage in the Senate, there is $7.5
billion allocated for grants to build charging stations, about half of what
Biden originally proposed. He wanted $15 billion for 500,000 stations, plus
money for tax credits and rebates to entice people into buying electric
Only 2.2% of new vehicle sales were fully electric vehicles through June,
according to Edmunds.com estimates. That's up from 1.4% at the same time last
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a large industry trade group, said
in a statement it will work with the administration to reach zero carbon
emissions from transportation. But it said the best opportunity for
environmental benefits will come after 2026 as more electric vehicles are sold.
The industry, it said, will invest more than $300 billion in electrification
by 2025, producing 130 electric models by 2026. Only about 50 are available