President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Thursday establishing the goal of making half of all new vehicles sold in the United States zero emissions—either hybrid or fully electric—by 2030, according to the White House.
Biden’s executive order will also set a new schedule for the development of new long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to tackle pollution and other objectives, the White House said in a release.
There is also action on near-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expected to propose revisions to President Donald Trump’s rollback of such standards. Trump in March 2020 ordered a reduction in annual increases in efficiency to 1.5 percent per year through 2026, down from the 5 percent annual boosts set in 2012 by President Barack Obama’s administration.
“The two agencies are advancing smart fuel efficiency and emissions standards that would deliver around $140 billion in net benefits over the life of the standards, including asthma attacks avoided and lives saved, save about 200 billion gallons of gasoline, and reduce around two billion metric tons of carbon pollution,” the White House stated. “For the average consumer, this means net savings of up to $900 over the life of the vehicle from fuel savings.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg clarified in an interview on CNBC that Biden’s 50 percent objective is not a mandate, with agencies to use it as a framework for developing binding standards.
“It doesn’t function as a mandate but it does create the conditions for us to meet that goal,” Buttigieg said, adding that his agency would be announcing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards which he called “ambitious, aggressive” but “also feasible.” He said the new rules would require fuel efficiency to increase by about 8 percent per year.
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler-parent Stellantis NV have endorsed Biden’s zero emissions sales target, saying in a joint statement that they aspired “to achieve sales of 40-50 percent of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles… by 2030,” adding that the goal can only be met with more government investment in charging stations and other infrastructure.
Biden’s 50 percent goal and the automakers’ 40-50 percent aspiration includes battery electric, fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid vehicles that also have gasoline engines.
Representatives of Detroit automakers and the United Automobile Workers union are expected to join Biden at the White House Thursday for a signing ceremony, according to Reuters.
The moves are part of the Biden administration’s broader efforts to reduce emissions of gases linked to climate change.
“Together, today’s announcements would put us on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger vehicle sales by more than 60 percent in 2030 compared to vehicles sold last year, and facilitate achieving the President’s goal of 50-52 percent net economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions below 2005 levels in 2030,” the White House stated.
Reuters contributed to this report.