Biden hopes to boost EV sales with plan to cut vehicle emissions

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on Wednesday to cut emissions for new cars and trucks, a move automakers said would mean two out of every three new vehicles sold would be electric. decade.

The proposal, if finalized, would represent the most aggressive US vehicle emissions reduction plan to date, requiring 13% annual average emissions reductions and a 56% reduction in fleet average emissions above 2026 requirements. The EPA is proposing new tougher emissions standards for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks through 2032.

The EPA predicts that the 2027-2032 model year rules will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 9 billion tons by 2055 — more than twice the total US CO2 emissions last year.

Automakers and environmentalists say the administration is moving quickly to finalize the new rules by early 2024, making it more difficult for a future Congress or president to change them. Then President Donald Trump rolled back tough emissions limits by 2025 set under Barack Obama, but the Biden administration reversed the rollback.

The agency estimates net benefits through 2055 from a projected range of $850 billion to $1.6 trillion. The plan would cost a manufacturer about $1,200 per vehicle by 2032, but would save an owner an average of more than $9,000 in fuel, maintenance and repair costs over an eight-year period.

“Factors outside of the vehicle, such as infrastructure, supply chains, grid charging, etc., make resilience, low Availability of carbon fuels and critical minerals will determine whether EPA standards are achievable at these levels.”

The plan is more ambitious than President Joe Biden’s 2021 goal, backed by automakers, to have 50% of new vehicles be electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids by 2030.

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The Biden administration has not proposed banning gasoline-powered vehicles, but it wants comments on whether to extend emissions rules until 2035 and other alternatives. Some environmental groups want the EPA to set stricter rules, especially on heavy-duty trucks.

The United Auto Workers, which has previously warned of potential job losses from the switch to EVs, said it would review the EPA’s plan.

“There’s no good reason why electric vehicle manufacturing can’t be a gateway to the middle class for generations of unionized auto workers’ auto jobs. But early signs for the industry are troubling,” the UAW said. “Forcing workers to decide between good jobs and green jobs is a false choice.”

EPA Administrator Michael Reagan declined to set a date for ending sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles. He emphasized that the plan is a “performance-based standard” and not an EV mandate.

“We’re not putting any particular technology out of business — so to speak,” he said.

Under the EPA proposal, automakers are projected to produce 60% of EVs by 2030 and 67% by 2032 – with just 5.8% of US vehicles sold in 2022 being EVs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to propose parallel economy standards in the coming weeks.

California changed its mandate in August to require all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric or plug-in electric hybrids by 2035, but would need an EPA exemption to continue. Reagan would not say how the EPA would respond to the California request. “We’ll look for it if it ever comes up,” he said.

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Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito called the plan “misguided” and said the “Biden administration has made it clear to Americans what types of cars and trucks we are allowed to buy, lease and drive.”

Don Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transportation Campaign, said the EPA plan should have been tougher.

“Automakers are talking out of both sides of their tailpipes, promising electric vehicles while delivering the same old gas-guzzlers and lobbying for weak, loophole-filled rules,” Becker said.

Under the proposal, EPA estimates that 50% of new commercial vehicles, such as buses and garbage trucks, will be EVs by 2032, along with 35% of new short-haul freight tractors and 25% of new long-haul freight tractors. Medium duty vehicle rules are projected to reduce emissions by 44% over 2026.

David Shepherdson reports; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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