Updated Apr 10, 2023 - Energy & Environment

EPA to propose auto emissions limits in new EV adoption drive

President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on November 17, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

President Biden at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan, in 2021. Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose new rules limiting auto tailpipe emissions this week as part of a plan to accelerate a transition to electric vehicles in the U.S.

Why it matters: Transportation is the country's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Curbing pollution from vehicles is a crucial aspect of the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Driving the news: The EPA is expected to roll out a draft plan setting emissions rules for light-duty vehicles including cars, SUVs and pickups from model years 2027-2032, an agency official told Axios.

  • Another draft plan will set rules for heavy-duty vehicles and engines.
  • The New York Times reports the regulations would effectively require electric vehicles to account for 54% to 60% of new car sales by 2030 and 64% to 67% in 2032 — though the Washington Post notes these numbers represented the most stringent of several options in the rule.
  • The EPA official emphasized to Axios in an email that "the proposal process is not yet final."

By the numbers: President Biden has set a non-binding goal for at least 50% of all new cars sold in 2030 to be zero-emissions models, including electric and hydrogen fuel cell models.

  • Major industry group the Alliance for Automotive Innovation noted in a memo published last week in anticipation of the new rules announcement that the EV market share of new vehicle sales reached almost 10% in December as demand increases.

State of play: Automakers including Ford and General Motors have stepped up EV sales drives and other initiatives to combat climate change.

  • GM has said it plans to become "carbon neutral" by 2040 while setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035.
  • But environmental groups say more efforts are needed in tackling tailpipe emissions.

What they're saying: "Tailpipe emissions pollute the air we breathe and worsen severe weather," said Fred Krupp, president of advocacy nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund in a statement welcoming the expected EPA action.

  • "The race to cleaner air, a safer climate and more made in America jobs — is on."

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation said in its memo that a "clear-eyed assessment of market readiness" is required.

  • "Regulatory mandates alone will not address the conditions … that will determine the ultimate success of the EV transition," the group added.

Go deeper: More in Axios Generate on Monday

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further context.

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