Tough New EPA Emissions Standards Could Drive Up EV Sales Tenfold

The EPA has proposed standards that, it says, will have zero-emission vehicles representing two-thirds of the market by 2032.

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President Biden wants half of all new cars sold in the US to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

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Strict new emissions standards for cars, trucks and other light-duty vehicles could cause sales of EVs to increase nearly tenfold by 2032, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

On Wednesday, the agency proposed what EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan called an "ambitious" update to current emissions standards, which are slated to expire in 2026. The new tailpipe regulations would further curb air pollution and greenhouse gases, and embrace clean-car technology that wasn't available when the previous standards were established.

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"By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris administration's promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families," Regan said in a statement.

If the rules are adopted, the EPA predicts, electric vehicles would account for a growing segment of US car sales in the coming years, reaching 67% of the market by the time 2032 models roll off the assembly line.
In January 2022, they represented just 7% of new car sales.

What are the new emission standards?

The guidelines don't specifically dictate that carmakers increase EV production. Rather, they limit emissions from vehicle tailpipes to just 82 grams/mile on average across a company's entire production line -- or 56% less emissions than in the target set for 2026.

Increasing production of zero-emission vehicles is the most obvious way to meet that goal, though automakers could theoretically devise other solutions

The EPA also proposes tougher emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles like delivery trucks, school buses and tractor-trailers. Their combined result would be a reduction of about 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide through 2055, Regan said.

The proposal also calls for better fuel mileage and lower maintenance costs, which the agency says could save car owners an average of $12,000 over the life of their vehicle.

When would the new EPA regulations take effect?

Regan didn't have a timeline for the adoption of the new standards, which will go through a lengthy public comment period and could be substantially revised.  
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order establishing as a goal that half of all new cars sold in the US must be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. And even before Wednesday's announcement, many automakers were already moving toward electrification. 

Stellantis, formerly Chrysler, has committed to half of its US sales being battery EVs by the end of the decade. General Motors has pledged to phase out gas-powered cars completely by 2035, while Honda has targeted 2040. 

Ford is investing over $50 billion toward manufacturing 2 million EVs in 2026, representing about a third of its annual global production. To date, though, the company has only pledged to go fully electric in Europe. 

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