President Biden is throwing more of his weight behind electric cars. Biden is signing an Executive Order that sets a target for half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to have some form of zero-emissions driving, whether it’s a pure EV, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The move is meant to not only promote clean transportation and limit climate change, but help the US “outcompete” a Chinese car industry that’s quickly shifting toward electrified vehicles.
In sync with the order, the EPA and NHTSA will outline how they plan to undo the Trump administration’s rollbacks of emissions and fuel efficiency standards. The two agencies will collaborate using standards built on the “momentum” from an agreement between California and automakers BMW, Ford, Honda, Volvo and VW. The EPA’s proposed rules would take effect in the 2023 model year, while the NHTSA’s would arrive in the 2024 model year. The team-up would have the standards mesh until model year 2026.
The Biden administration has rallied support from domestic brands for the effort. Ford, GM and Stellantis have declared a “shared aspiration” to meet the 2030 target and otherwise support Biden’s vehicle electrification policies.
It’s a significant goal. EVs have represented about 2 percent of US car sales for the past three years, according to the International Energy Agency and Pew Research. While the pandemic might have played a role in limiting 2020 sales, meeting the 2030 target would fundamentally transform the US car market, not to mention the charging infrastructure needed to support it.
However, it might drag behind some states, not to mention car makers. California and Massachusetts will ban all sales of new gas-based cars by 2035. GM also plans to exclusively sell EVs by that year, while Ford will go completely electric in Europe by 2030. Brands like Volvo and Stellantis’ Fiat badge have also committed to full electrification by 2030. However ambitious the Biden plan might be, it could seem relatively modest in some respects.