The EPA proposes strict emission limits to boost sales of electric vehicles


The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed sweeping emissions cuts for new cars and trucks by 2032, a move that could mean two in three new vehicles sold by automakers within a decade will be electric.

The proposal, if completed, will represent the most aggressive U.S. vehicle emissions reduction plan yet, requiring a 13% reduction in average pollution per year and a 56% reduction in projected average fleet emissions from 2026 requirements . The EPA is also proposing new, more stringent emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2032.

The EPA estimates that the 2027-2032 model year rules would save more than 9 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2055 — more than double the total US CO2 emissions last year.

Automakers and environmentalists say the government is moving quickly to finalize new rules by early 2024 to make it much harder for a future Congress or president to reverse them. Then-President Donald Trump rolled back the tough 2025 emissions limits set under Barack Obama, but the Biden administration reversed the rollback.

The agency estimates the net benefit from the proposal to be between $850 billion and $1.6 trillion by 2055. By 2032, the proposal would cost about $1,200 per vehicle per manufacturer, but would save an owner more than $9,000 on average in fuel, maintenance and repair costs over eight years.

The EPA estimates the net benefit from the proposal to be between $850 billion and $1.6 trillion by 2055.

“Much needs to be right for this massive — and unprecedented — shift in our automotive market and industrial base to succeed,” said John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota and others.

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

The proposal is more ambitious than President Biden’s automaker-backed 2021 target of 50% of new vehicles to be electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids by 2030. Stellantis said it was “surprised that none of the alternatives are consistent with the President’s previously announced goal of 50% EVs by 2030.”

The Biden administration is not proposing a ban on gasoline-powered vehicles, but would like comments on whether it should extend emissions regulations to 2035 and other alternatives. Some environmental groups want the EPA to set stricter rules, especially for heavy trucks.

An electric vehicle at a charging station
The EPA estimates that an average car owner will save more than $9,000 in fuel, maintenance and repair costs over an eight-year period.

“These standards are very ambitious and reflect the sense of urgency that the President and this administration have in addressing the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an interview with Reuters, declining to set a date for the end to support the sale of new petrol-powered vehicles. He stressed the proposal was a “performance-based standard” and not an EV mandate.

Under the EPA proposal, automakers should produce 60% EVs by 2030 and 67% by 2032 to meet the requirements — compared to just 5.8% of U.S. vehicles sold in 2022 that were EVs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to propose parallel economic standards in the coming weeks.

California decided in August that all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 must be electric or plug-in hybrids, but still needs to apply for an EPA waiver to proceed. Regan declined to say how the EPA would respond to a California inquiry. “We’ll keep an eye out for that if it ever comes to that,” he said.

Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said the EPA proposal should have been stricter.

“Automakers are talking on both sides of their tailpipes, promising electric vehicles, but mostly delivering the same old gas guzzlers and advocating weak, incomplete rules,” said Becker.

Under the proposal, the EPA estimates that by 2032, 50% of new commercial vehicles such as buses and garbage trucks could be electric vehicles, along with 35% of new short-haul freight trucks and 25% of new long-haul freight trucks. Medium-duty vehicle regulations are expected to reduce emissions by 44% by 2026.

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