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Biden to Set Goal of 50% Electric Vehicle Sales by 2030

August 5, 2021 by Dan McCue
President Joe Biden in the White House Rose Garden. (Photo by Dan McCue)

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Thursday that his administration is setting a new national goal for the sale of electric vehicles — wanting half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be powered by electricity.

The executive order Biden will sign during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday afternoon is also expected to lay out a plan that will include construction of a nationwide network of charging stations, financial incentives for consumers to buy electric cars and financial aid for carmakers and suppliers to retool factories for electric vehicles.

In addition, the president also plans to tighten fuel economy standards that were rolled back by former President Donald Trump.

During a conference call with reporters Wednesday night, a White House official said electric vehicles covered by the new sales target will include battery-powered, fuel cell-powered, and hybrid electric models.

“Just step back and think about what this means for new autos,” the official said, speaking on background. “A decade ago, we were talking about reaching around 50 miles per gallon of gasoline in 15 years. Today, for new autos, we’re talking about reaching the milestone of 50% of vehicle sales being cars and trucks that don’t require even one gallon of gasoline. And we’re talking about reaching that goal in less than a decade. 

“This is a paradigm shift,” the official said.

According to Edmunds.com, an online resource for automotive inventory and related information, only 2.2% of new vehicle sales this year were fully electric vehicles through June. And that’s up from 1.4% for the same period last year.

In February Edmunds’ analysts predicted 2021 would be a record year for EV sales, topping out at about 2.9% of new vehicle sales for the year.

The executive order will also kick off the development of long-term fuel efficiency and emission standards that the White House said will “save consumers money, cut pollution, boost health, while advancing environmental justice and the administration’s goals for tackling the climate crisis.”

The new standards are expected to kick in during the 2026 model year.

Key to garnering industry and labor support for his push to move the U.S. from its reliance on the internal combustion engine, is the promise of new jobs and billions of dollars in new federal investments in electric vehicles.

As a result of that promise, officials from Ford, GM and other automakers, as well as the United Auto Workers union, will be on hand for the executive order signing.

White House officials also pointed out that the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being deliberated in the Senate includes an investment of $7.5 billion to further develop the nation’s electric vehicle charging network, and over $6 billion dedicated to the battery supply chain, manufacturing and helping factories retool and expand “to meet this growing demand.”

The administration is also set to announce that the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department are about to begin a new rulemaking effort to address the Trump administration’s rollbacks of near-term fuel efficiency and emission standards.

White House officials said the announcement would be accompanied by coordinated notices of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, and that proposals from the agencies will be finalized in coming months, after a period allowing the public and industry leaders to comment.

“The two agencies are advancing smart fuel efficiency and emission standards that would deliver around $140 billion in net benefits over the life of the program, save about 200 billion gallons of gasoline, and reduce around 2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution for the average consumer,” a White House official said. “This means net benefits of up to $900 over the life of the vehicle in fuel savings.” 

In a joint statement released Thursday morning, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which owns Jeep and Chrysler, said they share the Biden administration’s goal, though they quantified the aspirational sales goal for 2030 of being 40-50%.

“Our recent product, technology, and investment announcements highlight our collective commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles,” the corporations 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. 

“With the UAW at our side in transforming the workforce and partnering with us on this journey, we believe we can strengthen continued American leadership in clean transportation technology through electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing. We look forward to working with the Biden administration, Congress and state and local governments to enact policies that will enable these ambitious objectives,” they concluded.

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