EPA Announces New Proposed Tailpipe Emissions Standards

The standards would be a catalyst for an aggressive shift to EVs.

April 12, 2023

WASHINGTON—The EPA announced new proposed standards for tailpipe emissions today. The EPA states that “depending on the compliance pathways manufacturers select to meet the standards, EPA projects that EVs could account for 67% of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales in MY 2032.”

“A separate proposal, covering medium-duty vehicles such as box trucks and school buses, is expected to electrify nearly half of those vehicles by the 2032 model year,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the EPA, since President Biden took office, the number of EV sales has tripled, the number of available models has doubled, and there are 40% more public chargers. The private sector has also committed more than $120 billion in domestic EV and battery investments since President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group that represents major car companies, told White House officials at a February meeting that EV adoption depends on factors outside the control of auto makers, “including a build-out of robust charging infrastructure and the supply of necessary minerals to make batteries,” according to the Journal.

“Even with positive EV sales momentum and product excitement, there are challenges to the electrification transition ahead,” the alliance said in a recent statement.

Another challenge could be continuity at the White House as Mr. Biden gears up for his expected 2024 reelection campaign. Before leaving office in 2017, President Obama set tailpipe-emissions standards, only to see President Trump’s administration roll back those rules.

That sort of back-and-forth makes planning difficult for the auto industry, which has long lead times and requires significant amounts of capital before companies sell their products to customers, said Lawrence Burns, former corporate vice president of research and development and planning at GM.

“If the requirements keep bouncing around, I don’t see how anyone wins,” Burns told the Journal.

NPR notes that many car companies were not publicly planning on being anywhere close to two-thirds electric in the U.S. by 2032 and that “the proposed regulations will be open for comment, and car makers will likely be very vocal about expressing what they consider they can actually achieve over the next decade.”