The EPA is announcing expected new emissions rules today that will save Americans trillions of dollars in health and fuel costs, avoid nearly 10 billion tons of emissions, and result in an EV market share of about 60% by 2030 and 67% by 2032.

The rules are an improvement from President Biden’s previous commitment of 50% electric by 2030. But they’re also far ahead of what many automakers are planning, leaving millions of EV sales up for grabs come 2030.

On a press call in advance of the announcement, White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi noted that the auto industry has progressed significantly since Biden’s original executive order targeting 50% EVs was signed two years ago. The number of available EV models has doubled, charging stations have doubled, and total EV deployments have tripled.

As a result of the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Bill, there has been significant public and private investment into electric car infrastructure and manufacturing. Zaidi said this will enable the production of 13 million vehicles’ worth of batteries in the US in 2030 – more than enough to meet today’s targets.

The investment and spending from these laws enabled the EPA to set more stringent targets with today’s rules than it might have been able to otherwise. While today’s regulations are stronger than previous targets, projections for BEV market share have been continually increased in recent years, such that an additional increase from today’s estimate seems feasible.

The new EPA rules do not mandate a certain percentage of EV sales, but rather mandate rapidly decreasing average fleet CO₂ emissions. Between 2026 and 2032, fleet emissions will need to drop by an average of 13% per year, until reaching 82g CO₂ per mile by 2032. By comparison, the average new vehicle in 2021 emitted 347gCO₂/mi – about four times as much as the 2032 rule.

They also target emissions of several other pollutants such as NOx, PM2.5, VOCs, SOx, and so on, reducing each by about half in the long term.

Watch EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s formal announcement of the new rule below, at 11 a.m. EDT:

Automakers can meet these mandates with whichever technology they choose, whether battery electric vehicles or otherwise. However, it is likely that most automakers will lean heavily on BEVs as they emit nothing at the tailpipe and are more easily scalable than other technologies like hybrids, fuel cells, or attempting to wring more efficiency out of gasoline engines.

The new rules cover not only passenger cars but also medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, with additional targets specific to those sectors. These standards will result in greater deployment of “vocational vehicles” like electric delivery trucks, dump trucks, transit, school buses, and more – the EPA estimates 50% of these will be electric by 2032.

The EPA calculated costs and benefits from the new rules and estimates that the benefits of the new standards would exceed costs by at least $1 trillion, potentially much more in optimistic scenarios. The average consumer will save $12,000 over the life of a vehicle, in addition to hundreds of billions of health and climate benefits and reduced dependence on foreign oil to the tune of tens of billions of barrels.

And most importantly, the EPA says that these new guidelines should contribute to the goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2ºC,” which is important to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

In addition to these emissions guidelines, the regulations seek to establish a minimum warranty period for EV batteries of at least eight years and 80,000 miles and to require onboard battery health monitors. They will also reduce the gap between passenger car and “light truck” (SUV/pickup) emissions requirements, which could reduce some incentive that automakers currently have to build bigger and deadlier SUVs.

While the EPA’s guidelines do not match California’s new ACC2 regulations, which ban sales of new ICE cars by 2035, the EPA does acknowledge that a number of states have or will adopt ACC2, and a number of other countries are targeting similar all-EV timelines. Regions representing about 25% of global auto sales have already adopted goals banning new ICE cars by 2035, which establishes the global trend toward electrification. `the EPA also acknowledged that the largest US automaker, GM, requested an all-electric by 2035 target, but still decided to limit its rulemaking to model year 2032, rather than 2035.

The proposed regulations will go up for public review in the Federal Register, where the EPA also seeks feedback on three additional alternatives. These alternatives are 10gCO₂/mi more or less stringent than the proposed standards, with “Alternative 1” being the most stringent of the three. You can probably guess which of those alternatives we as Electrek would prefer.

Electrek’s Take

Reading through these regulations is quite a relief for someone who has been advocating for stronger emissions standards for so long, especially through four years of lying incompetence with previous EPA leadership. It’s nice to read government speak plainly about the necessity of a regulation, how it will help, how it will be achieved, and that it is achievable, all supported with real science.

With so much of our political discussion these days centered around 140-character regurgitations vomited uncritically from one talking head to another, sitting down to dig into (*checks notes*) 1,475 pages (oh-god-I’m-not-sleeping-tonight-am-I) of competent regulation is actually a bit of a breath of fresh air.

Whatever, call me a nerd. I accept it.

Importantly, these regulations are a significant increase from current automaker commitments, so we will need to see updates on those coming soon. As I argued after the NYTimes leaked the upcoming rules over the weekend, the auto industry is up for grabs with these new rules.

I estimated that there will be a gap of roughly 2 million electric vehicles between this new EPA regulation and current automaker commitments for 2030 (EPA included a similar table in their proposed rule today, with similar numbers). That gap will need to be filled, and the most likely companies to fill it are the EV-only brands that have jumped in cannonball-style, instead of testing the water one toe at a time like some incumbent automakers have.

Read more on how these new rules will upend the industry, and how they’re achievable, here.

While these rules may be challenged, they still give the industry a baseline that they need to target, and that they need to start working on now given the length of car development timelines. Any company that isn’t ready to meet these guidelines will be in a tough spot if the rules do survive inevitable challenges, or alternately, if the rules get strengthened over time.

And they just might, because we think there’s a good chance nobody’s going to want a gas car well before 2035 anyway. So automakers better get to work, and a swift kick in the pants by government might be just the motivation they need to save themselves.

If I’m going to criticize, I would like to have seen the EPA just copy California’s ACC2, unifying emissions rules across the US. This last happened when current President Biden was vice president back in 2012, when CARB and the EPA worked together on emissions targets.

CARB intentionally set ACC2 targets a little lower than what California is probably capable of in the hopes to bring other states along, perhaps with the hope that the whole nation might adopt these standards. And 2035 is achievable nationwide, so we should do it, especially since it’s necessary to keep warming to 1.5ºC. But maybe, when it comes time to propose 2035 rules (since the EPA stopped at 2032), we’ll be ready to ratchet things up a bit more, just as today’s rules did from the previous 50% target.

The proposed rules lag behind public opinion as well. According to a recent poll, a majority of US voters support a requirement that 100% of new cars sold be electric starting 2030. The idea was “strongly” or “somewhat” supported by 55% of respondents, and opposed by just 35%. This is another reason we ask “why not sooner?” about a 2035 target for 100% electric car sales.

But despite our misgivings, these actions taken today are still enormously important, a huge step forward for EVs, for Americans’ health and pocketbooks, and for the climate. It’s great to see.

Featured Photo by Billy Hathorn