19 fév 24

Biden slowing down switch to EVs

The Biden Administration is slowing down the speed of the transition to EVs, the New York Times writes. The proposed plan is a win for both automakers and auto workers, and echoes similar backtracks by other governments across the world. 

A year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the strictest ever vehicle emissions limits. Those rules would have forced OEMs to ensure that 67% of their new car and light-duty truck sales be all-electric by 2032. 

Slower ramp-up

While that remains the ultimate goal, the EPA has now drawn up a plan for a much slower ramp-up to that number, the Times writes, allowing OEMs to have EVs make up a much smaller share of their sales until 2030. (Conversely, the share of EVs would have to rise much sharper after 2030). 

The change in pace is in part a reaction to real-world EV sales figures. While the share of electric vehicles on the U.S. car market has increased rapidly over the past few years, it was still at no more than 7.3% in 2023. That’s a lot less than many automakers themselves had predicted. With rapid growth tailing off, several OEMs have started scaling down their EV production plans. 

The two most cited reasons for the faltering BEV sales figures are continued gaps in charging infrastructure, and comparatively high prices for BEV models. Both explain the relative success of hybrid vehicles, of which Americans bought more than 1 million last year, up 76% from 2022. 

Realistic expectations

In light of those less than stellar EV sales figures, it’s hard to see how to reach the 66% share for EVs in new car sales by 2032, as projected by the Biden Administration. Hence the EPA’s proposed rule change, bringing targets more in line with realistic expectations. 

The EPA’s proposed rule change would be a response not just to market realities, but also to political pressure. In fact, it would be a win for both automakers as well as for labour unions, both of which had pleaded with the U.S. federal government for more time to boost both EV production, and to roll out the charging infrastructure that those EVs will require. 

In what may be a coincidence, the United Auto Workers (UAW) last month endorsed president Biden’s run for re-election, after months of challenging him that he was pursuing the switch to EVs too quickly. 

Weakening support

The EPA rule change has not yet been announced officially. The Times reports that Biden is expected to announce the change sometime this spring. 

When enacted, it will join the ranks of other recent government measures around the world that show weakening support for the transition to electric mobilty. 

The UK government announced that it would delay its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035. In both Germany, subsidies for EVs were reduced, because of market saturation and budget concerns, respectively. 

Image: Public domain

Authored by: Frank Jacobs