The US Government will reportedly introduce watered-down emissions regulations next month, with cooling demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and pushback from carmakers and unions forcing a change to its targets.

    In April 2023, the EPA proposed new vehicle regulations which would result in tightening fleet emissions requirements between 2027 and 2032, with an end goal of a 56 per cent reduction by the end of the five-year period.

    However, this target was based on EV sales reaching 60 per cent of the new vehicle market by 2030, and 67 per cent by 2032 – figures now unlikely to be reached.

    Last year, EVs accounted for 7.6 per cent of all new vehicle sales in the US, with about 1.2 million battery-powered vehicles sold – up from 5.9 per cent the year prior. 

    As reported by Reuters, the government is likely to scale back the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ambitious emissions reduction plans, with its new requirements to be based around slower EV sales.

    When the EPA first announced its emissions proposal, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union – which represents employees of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – suggested the regulations should be introduced “more gradually” and across a “greater period of time”.

    The UAW has thrown its support behind US President Joe Biden ahead of the presidential election in November 2024, after the incumbent leader backed the union’s industrial action against the ‘Big Three’ carmakers last year.

    ‘Legacy’ carmakers in the US – those which have traditionally sold combustion-powered vehicles – have also urged President Biden to water down the EV sales target, citing costs to consumers and infrastructure delays.

    The peak body for US carmakers, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI), has previously suggested the requirements should instead include hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well as EVs, with a target of 40 to 50 per cent market share by 2030 for these three vehicle types combined.

    The EPA previously estimated the proposed emissions regulations could save motorists an average of US$12,000 (A$18,400) across the life of their vehicles, due to fuel savings and lower maintenance costs.

    It also claimed almost 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions could be reduced through 2055, equivalent to five years of the entire US transportation sector’s current greenhouse gas output.

    The EPA’s proposal is unrelated to the US’s long-serving Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which are imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    A change to the CAFE standards – upon which the framework for Australia’s upcoming New Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES) will be based – is expected to be announced mid-year.

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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