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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 
serious problem.

   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 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 

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