Biden Softens EV Push, Easing Tailpipe Emission Targets

The U.S. President’s administration is reportedly poised to adjust its ambitious plan aimed at significantly reducing tailpipe emissions and accelerating the adoption of EVs.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly poised to adjust its ambitious plan aimed at significantly reducing tailpipe emissions and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Two sources familiar with the matter revealed to Reuters on Sunday that the administration intends to ease the proposed yearly requirements through 2030.

Automakers, along with the United Auto Workers (UAW), have been vocal in their concerns regarding the initial plan’s stringent targets for increasing EV sales. They argue that EV technology remains prohibitively expensive for many mainstream American consumers and that more time is needed to develop the necessary charging infrastructure.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had initially proposed a 56% reduction in new vehicle tailpipe emissions by 2032 back in April 2023. Under the initial proposal spanning from 2027 to 2032, automakers were expected to strive for EVs to constitute 60% of their new vehicle production by 2030 and 67% by 2032 to meet the stricter emissions requirements.

However, in response to industry pressure, the EPA is anticipated to unveil a revised final regulation, expected to be disclosed as early as next month. This revised regulation will reportedly slow down the pace of the proposed yearly emissions requirements through 2030. As a result, EVs are expected to account for less than 60% of total vehicles produced by 2030, according to the sources.

The UAW, which endorsed Biden in January despite opposition from former President Donald Trump, contends that the EPA’s proposal should be amended to increase stringency more gradually over a longer timeframe. Similarly, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI), representing major automakers including General Motors, Ford Motor, Stellantis, Toyota, and Volkswagen, has criticized the initial EPA proposal as unreasonable and unachievable.

AAI CEO John Bozzella emphasized the importance of allowing the market and supply chains time to adapt to the transition to EVs. Bozzella called for maintaining consumer choice, expanding public charging infrastructure, and allowing existing policies to facilitate the industrial shift.

The EPA’s plans were initially reported by The New York Times, which noted that the revised proposal would ramp up requirements from 2030 through 2032. An EPA spokesperson confirmed that the proposal is still undergoing interagency review, with the aim of finalizing a rule that balances achievable reductions in air and climate pollution with economic benefits.

White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to positioning U.S. workers at the forefront of the global auto sector through smart investments and standards. Discussions between the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, Tesla officials, and government stakeholders have been ongoing, with automakers voicing additional concerns regarding proposed changes to fuel economy ratings and fines for non-compliance.

Overall, the Biden administration’s decision to adjust its EV requirements reflects a delicate balancing act between environmental objectives, economic considerations, and industry concerns. As the transition to electric vehicles continues, stakeholders will closely monitor developments to ensure a smooth and sustainable shift towards a cleaner transportation future.