26 Mar 24

U.S. sets ambitious emissions standards to drive EV adoption

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden (pictured left) has announced the strictest tailpipe emissions standards in U.S. These rules are designed to push the U.S. auto industry – and its customers – towards a future more focused on electric mobility. But only if Biden wins the presidential election this November. 

“This is the single most important climate regulation in the history of the country”, said Margo Oge, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

56% reduction

The U.S. government projects that the stricter tailpipe emissions standards, which will come into effect from model year 2027, will result in a 56% reduction in fleetwide average carbon emissions by 2032.

Corresponding to that reduction in emissions will be a massive change in the types of vehicles driving on American roads. Specifically, 

  • The share of Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEVs), or pure-electrics, will go up from 8% of all new cars sold in 2023 to 56% in 2032. 
  • The share of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) will go up from 1.3% of all new cars sold in 2023 to 13% in 2032. 

The EPA estimates that the new emissions standards will avoid more than 7 billion tons of carbon emissions, and provide nearly $100 billion in annual net benefits (including $13 billion in reduced medical bills and $62 in reduced fuel and maintenance and repair cost). 

Relatively cautious

Once fully phased in, these standards will save the average American driver an estimated $6,000 in reduced fuel and maintenance over the life of a vehicle. 

Without a doubt, these ambitious new emissions standards will profoundly change the automotive landscape in the U.S. However, they are relatively cautious, on two counts. 

Firstly, the U.S. takes a more measured approach than its European counterparts. The EU has set itself a more aggressive goal: eliminating the sale of new internal-combustion engine cars entirely by 2035. Biden’s new standards allow for a more gradual transition, ensuring automakers can still sell new petrol and diesel vehicles well into the 2030s. 

And secondly, the current standards already represent a compromise. Last year’s draft regulations proposed an even more ambitious target: 67% BEVs by 2032. However, the Biden administration adjusted its stance, considering the challenges faced by automakers and the workforce. The new rules strike a balance between environmental impact and economic feasibility.

Donald Trump

As mentioned, this is an election year, and Biden wants to appease both the automakers and the autoworkers, both important electoral constituencies. However, Biden’s opponent in November, Donald Trump (pictured right), is having none of it. In his first term in office, Trump reduced environmental protections, and withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. (Biden later re-joined). 

So it is no surprise he is opposed to these emissions standards. In fact, he has vowed to repeal them on his first day in office. Biden’s new emissions standards show an America willing to take bold measures to deal with the climate emergency. The November elections will show whether it is that America which wins, or whether the other America will once again turn back the clock on climate protection measures. 

Image: Shutterstock 2401520329

Authored by: Frank Jacobs