President Biden today signed an Executive Order targeting half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles, such as battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
Seven major automakers and the United Auto Workers union released statements supporting the ambitious plan to help the transportation sector curb greenhouse gases attributable to climate change. According to a statement issued from the White House, the Executive Order "kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis."
Specifics haven't been finalized, but the Order reverses rollbacks to fuel efficiency and emissions standards created by the previous administration that sought to revoke California's right to set its own greenhouse gas standards under the Clean Air Act. Launched in 1975, provisions in the Act allowed California to lead the nation in clear air policy and tailpipe emissions standards.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
GM and Toyota were among the automakers previously supporting the loss of California's right to set its own emissions standards—for creating inconsistency across national markets—while other automakers supported it inline with the Paris Agreement and keeping pace with EV targets in other countries.
One of the key principles of Biden's Build Back Better plan is for America "to drive the electric vehicle future forward, outcompete China, and tackle the climate crisis."
The proposed standards developed out of the California Framework Agreement between the State of California and Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group, BMW, and Volvo. Those automakers all sell electric vehicles (BEV) or electrified vehicles such as plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or traditional hybrids (HEV).
The Ford Mustang Mach-E leads the charge for Ford, followed by the F-150 Lighting, a fully electric version of America's bestselling vehicle for more than four decades. The Volkswagen Group sells the Audi E-Tron lineup of BEVs, and the ID.4 leads VW's family of electric crossovers. Volvo sells plug-in hybrid variants of all its vehicles, and the XC40 Recharge BEV. BMW and Honda are among more than a dozen automakers committed to an electric vehicle future.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 - First drive, Portland OR
Even the most supportive automakers demand more help from the government.
"While the California framework companies are driving towards 40-50% of our sales being EVs in the next nine years, bold action from our partners in the federal government is crucial to build consumer demand for electric vehicles and put us on track to achieve the global commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement," BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and Volvo said in a joint statement. "That includes a strong nationwide greenhouse gas emissions standard, continued investments in charging infrastructure, and broad consumer incentives for all electric vehicle purchases.”
GM and Stellantis joined Ford in echoing the California framework companies.
"Our recent product, technology, and investment announcements highlight our collective commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles," the statement from America's Big Three said. "This represents a dramatic shift from the U.S. market today that can be achieved only with the timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the Administration in the Build Back Better Plan, including purchase incentives, a comprehensive charging network of sufficient density to support the millions of vehicles these targets represent, investments in R&D, and incentives to expand the electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains in the United States."
2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge
The incremental schedule for new standards takes affect as early as 2023. New rules for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including HD pickup trucks and commercial vehicles, are planned for model year 2027.
The statement included plug-in hybrid vehicles as well, but those cars have tailpipe emissions because they run on a combination of internal combustion engines supplemented by battery-powered motors. Still, the plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new car sales by more than 60% in 2030, compared to new cars sold in 2020, thereby reducing net emissions to below 2005 levels.
We'll update this story when these targets become numbers.