Biden Flanked by Detroit Automakers Signs Clean Car Targets
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden, flanked outside the White House by executives from Detroit’s major automakers, announced a national goal of having half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. to be emissions-free by the end of the decade.
“The future of the American auto industry is electric,” Biden said Thursday. “It is electric; there’s no turning back.”
It’s an ambitious goal that automakers say can only be achieved with bigger government investment in charging stations and other infrastructure.
Biden also announced his administration is crafting greenhouse gas-reduction standards and fuel economy requirements for vehicles, including medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, according to the White House.
The mandates are a centerpiece of Biden’s climate plans and mark his administration’s first major effort to use regulation to stem planet-warming greenhouse gases. Federal agencies are developing additional rules targeting methane emissions from oil wells and carbon dioxide releases from power plants after the Trump administration relaxed requirements.
|Biden Snubs Non-Union EV Makers at Event Promoting EVs|
|Where We Are on the Road to Electric Vehicles: QuickTake|
|Biden Climate Promises Bump Against Bureaucracy’s Grinding Gears|
Joining Biden at the White House Thursday were Mary Barra, chairwoman of General Motors Co., Jim Farley, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Co., and Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of North America for Stellantis NV, the company formed earlier this year from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group.
Several electric and hybrid vehicles were arrayed behind Biden as he spoke, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Bolt, Jeep Wrangler Limited Rubicon 4xE, GMC Hummer EV and Ford E Transit Van.
“I have a commitment from Mary when they make the first electric Corvette, I get to be the first person to drive it,” said Biden, an automobile enthusiast and owner of a 1967 Corvette Stingray.
After the signing ceremony Biden took a spin around the White House grounds in the plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler Rubicon as the emcee asked attendees to remain seated.
“Have you guys driven an electric vehicle?” a grinning Biden asked the crowd after hopping out. “It feels great.”
The event drew some consternation from carmakers not invited -- including the biggest U.S. maker of EVs: Tesla Inc.
“Yeah, seems odd that Tesla wasn’t invited,” Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said in a tweet.
The White House explained that the invited manufacturers -- GM, Ford and Stellantis -- are the biggest employers of United Auto Worker members.
“We of course welcome the efforts of all automakers who recognize the potential of an electric future and support efforts that will help reach President Biden’s goal, including the automakers who are committed to electrifying their fleet and reducing emissions,” the White House said in a statement.
Automakers say they are counting on the government’s help to meet the new vehicle goals, even as some environmentalists said they were not tough enough to confront ecological distress in the form of droughts, forest fires and melting arctic ice. The transportation industry accounts for the largest share of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the EPA.
The Environmental Protection Agency said the new emissions mandates would result in a 10% reduction in vehicle emissions in model year 2023 and then a 5% greater emissions reduction improvement each year after through 2026.
American car manufacturers have already announced plans to invest billions in producing carbon-neutral fleets. GM, for instance, has vowed to sell only zero-emissions models by 2035. Ford said it expects 40% of its global vehicle volume to be all-electric by 2030 and Stellantis has said it is targeting more than 70% of sales in Europe and over 40% in the U.S. to be “low-emission vehicles” -- meaning either electric or hybrid -- by 2030.
Biden in the spring asked Congress for $15 billion in spending to build a coast-to-coast network of 500,000 charging stations. He would get just half of that money in the bipartisan infrastructure package the Senate rolled out on Sunday.
There are about 41,000 charging stations now available to the public in the U.S., according to government data.
Electric vehicles represented only 2% of passenger sales in 2020, according to an analysis by BloombergNEF.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.