US to tighten car emission standards to accelerate EV transition

On Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new tailpipe emission limits that could require as much as 67% of all new vehicles sold in the US by 2023 to be fully electric. “A very ambitious proposal,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan called it.

The proposed limits are considered the country’s most aggressive climate regulations, surpassing President Joe Biden’s 2021 goal of seeking 50% of new vehicles by 2030 to be electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids, accelerating the energy transition.

Environmental groups praised the EPA’s limits as necessary for addressing climate change and mitigating air pollution, especially for marginalized communities that live near major highways.

Pollution standards

Despite a rise in EV sales in the US in recent years, EV sales accounted for only 5,8% of all the 13,8 million new vehicles sold in the country last year, an increase from 3,1% the year before. The limits wouldn’t require a specific amount of annual EV sales but rather set pollution standards for cars and trucks, forcing the auto industry to sell more EVs to meet the requirements.

However, the proposed limits would present a slew of challenges for automakers. Car manufacturers are already investing billions in factories and battery technology to support EVs. But a rapid adoption of EV technology would require more widespread and reliable charging infrastructure and more materials necessary for EV batteries, among other things.

‘How fast can it be done?’

According to John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association representing major carmakers, EPA’s proposed regulation “is aggressive by any measure” and sets “very high” automotive electrification goals over the next few years. “The question isn’t can this be done, it’s how fast can it be done.”

The Biden administration’s efforts to raise EV sales could also face opposition from consumers, who will ultimately need to be willing and able to buy EVs. The US is the world’s third-largest EV market behind China and Europe.


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