Biden pushes carmakers on lenient path to 50% CO2 reduction

President Joe Biden is pushing the American car industry toward reducing CO2 emissions by 50% in 2032 compared to 2026, as first announced last year in April. However, under pressure from carmakers and unions, he has allowed a more ‘lenient’ path to achieving that in the 2027-2030 period, with no longer stringent quotas for the number of zero-emission vehicles to be sold.

This is a sigh of relief for traditional carmakers, who are still relying heavily on their profitable ICE models while EV uptake is slowing down. Still, the new standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are called “the most ambitious plan ever to cut planet-warming emissions from passenger vehicles.”

Easing down rules

To avoid more than 7 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA initially set targets for the auto industry to have at least 60% of new passenger cars sold in the US would be electric by 2030 and up to 67% by 2032.

That was ‘eased down’ on Wednesday to 56% of new vehicle sales being electric by 2032, 13% plug-in hybrids or other partially electric cars, and more efficient gasoline-powered cars. The EPA now proposes a more ‘technology neutral’ regulatory scheme that allows automakers far more freedom to meet emissions standards.

How fast can it be done?

Last year, the automotive industry reacted like a wasp had stung it. John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, representing Ford, General Motors, and other automakers, called the EPA proposal “aggressive by any measure”. He said it exceeded the Biden administration’s 50% electric vehicle sales target for 2030, announced less than two years ago.

“The question isn’t, can this be done? It’s how fast it can be done,” Bozzella wrote. “How fast will depend almost exclusively on having the right policies and market conditions in place.”


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