Energy & Environment

Two-thirds of car sales could be electric by 2032 under new Biden proposal

Two-thirds of new car sales could be electric by 2032 under a new proposal released by the Biden administration on Wednesday. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects that 67 percent of new light-duty passenger cars sold in the U.S. could be electric that year under its new proposed clean car regulations.

For medium-duty vehicles, the share of news sales that are electric could be 46 percent. 

The agency is not mandating this level of electric vehicle sales. Instead, it’s proposing to require that automakers limit the greenhouse gas emissions coming from their fleets – which could be done by making more of their vehicles electric or by upgrading the gasoline-powered engines in their cars. 

Wednesday’s proposed limits, for model years 2027 through 2032, would be tighter than the limitations that the Biden administration put forward for previous model years. 

The administration is additionally proposing new climate regulations for heavy-duty vehicles including delivery trucks and school buses. 

“This is a win for the American people,” White House Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi told reporters on Tuesday. “President Biden is seizing the moment.”

Zaidi added that the regulations would be bolstered by investments in electric vehicle charging that are part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. 

All together, the proposals would cut 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2055, said the EPA press release. The avoided emissions would be equivalent to more than twice the U.S.’s total carbon dioxide emissions last year. 

Biden, in the past, said he hoped that half of new U.S. vehicle sales would be electric by 2030. The EPA’s regulations could be charting an even more ambitious course: electric vehicles would be projected to compose 55 percent of newmodel year 2029 and 60 percent of new model year 2030 sales.

In addition to limiting the climate-warming gases, the agency is also proposing to target other pollutants coming from these vehicles that form soot and smog and can be harmful to peoples’ health. 

Jeff Alson, a former engineer and policy advisor at the EPA, told The Hill that in addition to ratcheting up the standards for greenhouse gas emissions that vehicles had to make, the proposal would also subject more types of trucks to the light and medium-duty standards and level the playing field between lighter and heavier cars that are subject to the limits.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan described the regulations as the “strongest ever” federal pollution standards for cars and trucks on a call with reporters. 

A trade group representing major automakers questioned whether the new proposed limits were feasible. 

“Are EPA’s new standards feasible? Will they accelerate the EV transformation? It depends,” said a blog post from president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation John Bozzella.

“Factors outside the vehicle, like charging infrastructure, supply chains, grid resiliency, the availability of low carbon fuels and critical minerals will determine whether EPA standards at these levels are achievable,” Bozzella added. 

The proposal was also met with some Republican pushback, as the GOP argued that the proposal would limit consumer choice. 

“Today, the Biden administration made clear it wants to decide for Americans what kinds of cars and trucks we are allowed to buy, lease, and drive,” said a written statement from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), also citing the high prices of electric cars.

Meanwhile, as environmental groups largely praised the standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles, some said that the agency should have been more ambitious in its proposal for heavy-duty trucks. 

“The proposed heavy-duty rules are significant, but the market for electric trucks is moving quickly and there is both an urgent need and an opportunity to go even further to facilitate the transition to electric trucks with no tailpipe pollution,” said a statement from Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

— Updated at 1:22 p.m.

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