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Sportscar tailpipe.

EPA Expected to Ease Tailpipe Emissions Targets

Feb. 20, 2024
Restating last year’s stringent new vehicle emission standards is a recognition of the industry’s need for more time to engage EV buyers, and disrupts the plan to “transition” the domestic market to electric vehicles by 2030.

The Biden Administration will modify the U.S. Environmental Protective Agency’s stringent new vehicle emission standards less than a year after they were proposed, disrupting plans to “transition” the domestic auto market to electric vehicles by 2030. The policy change has been reported by multiple sources but is unconfirmed by either the administration or the EPA.

Reportedly, EPA will release new tailpipe emission standards in March, reducing the yearly emission target and decreasing the projected overall share of EV sales that automakers must achieve. A parallel effect would be to extend the period during which automakers will offer new internal combustion engines.

Any revisions would be an apparent recognition of consumers’ indifference to new EV options, leaving Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., and Stellantis to rework their upcoming production programs to provide more ICE options during the planned transition period.

In April 2023 the EPA outlined regulations to achieve substantial emission reductions for new vehicles and trucks through 2032, targeting 13% average annual pollution reductions, and projected 56% average emissions reductions by 2026. Those regulations also set aggressive emissions reduction targets for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles through 2032.

Last April, EPA claimed those standards would lead to EVs comprising two-thirds of all new cars sold, as Ford, GM, and Stellantis were expected to shift their product portfolios so that they would comprise 60% EVs by 2030, and 67% by 2032.

In addition to the EPA’s emissions targets, the domestic auto industry is arguing against the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s proposed revision to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program, to establish a petroleum-equivalent fuel economy rating for EVs.  

The Big Three automakers as well as the United Autoworkers union have lobbied the administration to extend the EPA’s target dates for the transition, arguing that the industry needs more time to develop lower-priced EV models in order to reach the sales volumes that would match the EPA targets. Although automakers have scheduled dozens of EV models for introduction in 2025 and onward, EV sales indicate that demand is mainly based among buyers of luxury models.

Affordability is only one of the market obstacles for EVs. Car buyers also have hesitancy about EVs’ range and charging requirements, among other factors, and generally do not share the urgency to achieve the transition according to EPA’s schedule.

EPA maintains that the last year’s proposed emissions regulations remain under interagency review, and that it expects to implement a rule that is achievable, reduces air and climate pollution, and brings economic benefits.

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