The EV revolution depends on the coming emissions rule

The rate at which automakers will have to phase out gas-powered vehicles in favor of all-electric vehicles will be determined Wednesday, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to release its new vehicle emissions rules.

Environmental groups are hoping for an accelerated timeline that will put the country on a path to an all-electric fleet early next decade, while automakers are pushing for slower adoption that will allow the industry to meet consumer needs.

The EPA’s original proposal, first announced in April 2023, would have resulted in a share of battery electric vehicles by 2027, 60 percent by 2030 and 67 percent by 2032 – a dramatic increase from today’s EV -sales figures of approximately 8 percent.

Environmental groups are hoping for an accelerated timeline

But the auto industry is in favor of an alternative path that would see electric cars make up 50 percent of car sales by 2030, arguing that this is a more realistic timetable for automakers who have struggled to sell electric cars at the right price produce for consumers.

And it appears the White House is open to these arguments, having indicated in recent weeks that it favors delaying the timeline to better align with the auto industry’s position. The New York Times recently reported that the EPA was open to giving automakers more time to reduce emissions, outlining details that most closely align with “Alternative 3” in its proposal. That standard would result in the same endpoint as the EPA’s proposal: a 56 percent reduction in average CO2 emissions for the entire fleet by 2032, compared to 2026.

But the cuts would be significantly slower under Alternative 3, which would mandate a 12 percent reduction in average emissions from 2026 to 2027, down from 18 percent under the original proposal. The emissions rules set performance standards based on grams of CO2 per kilometer, but do not require automakers to sell electric vehicles. Requiring stronger emissions cuts would essentially force the auto industry to sell more electric cars with zero tailpipe emissions to meet standards.

Slowing the transition would essentially give carmakers a license to continue selling polluting vehicles for longer. This has sent environmentalists into action, arguing that a delay will result in hundreds of millions of tons more heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere than under the more aggressive rules.

For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) notes that many of the vehicles built in 2032 – the year in which the original proposal calls for more than two-thirds of vehicles sold to be battery-electric – will likely still be on the road by 2032. By 2050, global climate emissions must be close to zero to avoid a climate catastrophe. By requiring declining average pollution levels, automakers are assured of delivering cleaner cars – either lower-emission gasoline vehicles or electric cars with zero-emission tailpipes.

“The stakes have honestly never been higher,” Don Anair, UCS deputy director for clean transportation, wrote earlier this month.

Under alternative 3, the cuts would be significantly slower

The auto industry, meanwhile, was irritated by the EPA’s omission of plug-in hybrid vehicles, arguing that they are a good bridge to an all-electric fleet. It also wants to see better coordination between the EPA and other emissions requirements from the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy – as well as the California Air Resources Board.

Experts agree that regardless of the details of the final rule, the overall result will be a wholesale, historic change in the types of cars people drive and the air they breathe.

“I am confident that EPA’s final actions for both cars and trucks will be the single most important climate regulation in the nation’s history,” said Margo Oge, former senior executive director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, in a briefing. with reporters.

“There may be disagreement about how fast, how much,” Oge added, “but in my experience, the country needs to move forward by moving away from fossil fuels.”

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