Biden electric car rules won’t do any good

Cars for sale at a dealership in New York City on September 29, 2020.

The United States needs to urgently slash global warming pollution with strictly enforced standards that phase out sales of new gasoline-engine cars and trucks by 2030 and dramatically boost fuel efficiency until then. But the emissions cuts in the auto plan President Biden issued Thursday are too timid – and rely too heavily on automakers’ voluntary commitments to produce electric vehicles. They won’t cut it.

Indeed, the loophole-riddled Swiss cheese rules fail to surpass those that automakers agreed to nine years ago when the climate crisis was less severe. They would trim fleetwide new-vehicle emissions (and increase average gas mileage) far less than the 7% yearly needed to make up for Trump-era rollbacks. 

Automakers shirk commitment 

The plan ballyhoos electric vehicles, touting a hoped-for new-vehicle fleet that could be up to 50% EVs in 2030. But automakers gave Biden no commitment that they would reach even that inadequate target. Voluntary pledges from auto companies make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight look like a legally binding contract. Because automakers have demonstrated they can’t be trusted (See: Volkswagen diesel-gate), compliance with every element of the package must be written in stone.

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