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US announces it will aim to achieve at least 50% of all new car sales to be electric by 2030

5 August 2021, 21:08 BST 4 min read

Today, the Biden Administration announced the proposed new interim federal clean car standards and plans for addressing vehicle standards through 2030. President Biden has also signed an Executive Order with a non-binding goal to achieve 50% of all new cars sales to be electric by 2030 by investing in American workers, manufacturing capacity, parts, materials, and good jobs. Electric vehicle technology has improved and cost has come down over the past several years which provides ample opportunity to drive the transition to electric at an even faster pace. 

Federal clean car standards, led by the US Environmental Protection Agency, require automakers to address and reduce tailpipe emissions from passenger vehicles by establishing yearly reductions in climate change causing pollutants such as CO2. These standards typically operate in tandem with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, led by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulate how far a passenger vehicle must go on a single gallon of fuel. Today’s release is a preliminary proposal and will be subject to a comment period which provides an opportunity to further shape the clean car standards.  

Strong federal clean car standards that address passenger tailpipe emissions are a critical way to reduce total transportation sector emissions and to help achieve the Biden Administration’s goal of 50-52% emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050. Additionally, strong clear car standards can protect millions of families from the harmful impacts of vehicle air pollution and save drivers money at the pump all while accelerating the advent of zero-emission transportation technologies like battery electric vehicles.  

The proposed clean car standards increase in stringency by 10% for model year 2023 compared to model year 2022. The standards would then increase by 5% each year from model year 2024 through 2026. The Administration anticipates that these clean car standards coupled with the newly proposed CAFE standards for model year 2024-2026 and more ambitious standards for model years 2026 and beyond will help achieve the goal for 50% of all new cars sales to be electric by 2030.  

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director of North America at the Climate Group said:  

“We’re pleased to see President Biden’s executive order to achieve at least 50% of all new cars sales to be electric. If we are to transition away from polluting vehicles fast enough to reach our net zero goals by 2050, the climate crisis will require an even stronger response moving forward.  

We only have until the end of the decade to halve emissions to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and we’re already seeing the costs of delayed climate action across the country from wildfires, droughts and heatwaves to flash floods and power outages. We will need stronger clean car standards designed to achieve even greater ambition of 100% ZEV sales ideally by 2030 that are competitive with recent commitments of other world leaders. The good news is that we have the technology, demand and resources to do more to ensure American leadership on climate. Businesses are also driving change on the electric vehicle transition as seen by the leadership of members in EV100, our global initiative on sustainable transport.  

Today’s announcement by the Biden Administration is a promising starting point to support the much needed expansion of electric vehicles. We look forward to working with the Administration to shape a faster path forward to a clean and electric transport future.” 

Innovations in the electric vehicle market have vastly improved over the past decade. Through EV100, over 110 members are showcasing that rapid electrification is possible—more than 5 million vehicles will be electric—and deploy charging by 2030 through EV100. In fact, EV100 members in partnership with Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) members delivered a letter to the Biden administration demonstrating widespread support for robust vehicle standards to achieve 100% sales of new light-duty vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions ideally by 2030. 

Stronger clean car standards would provide a critical opportunity for the US to improve air quality, ensure we’re on a viable path to halve emissions by 2030, and boost the zero-emission vehicle economy, providing well-paying, family-sustaining American jobs. Especially as we approach COP26, the US must continue to demonstrate its commitment to impactful climate action to drive progress across the world.