The U.S. government wants automakers to raise gas mileage and reduce tailpipe pollution between now and 2026, and the industry voluntarily pledged Thursday that electric vehicles will comprise half of U.S. sales by the end of the decade.
These are important steps toward President Joe Biden’s commitment to reduce emissions and combat climate change by driving a historic shift in the country away from internal combustion engines to battery-powered vehicles. They also reflect the delicate balance required in negotiations to win the support of employers and unions for the environmental campaign, with the promise of jobs and multibillion-dollar federal investments in electric vehicles.
The administration announced Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department will issue new mileage and pollution standards, part of Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. He said the auto industry agreed that 40-50% of new vehicle sales will be electric by 2030.
The regulatory standards and voluntary goal will be included in an executive order that Biden plans to sign in the next few hours.
The new standards, which must follow the regulatory process and include public comment, would reverse the actions of President Donald Trump, who eliminated several provisions aimed at reducing pollution.
It remains to be seen to what extent consumers are willing to accept the higher-mileage, lower-emission vehicles in place of the gas-guzzling SUVs that are the auto industry’s top-selling products. Ultimately, the 2030 targets are non-binding, and the industry stressed that to meet them, bills pending in Congress, with billions of dollars of investment in electric vehicles, are vital.