Ambitious EV transition goals face challenges

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to release a Biden administration proposal this Wednesday that will set strict new limits on auto pollution, according to an article from the Associated Press. The goals set by the proposal are higher than those laid out by executive order in 2021, which mandated that electric vehicles (EVs) make up 50% of U.S. auto sales by 2030, and will increase that number to 54% by 2030 and more than 66% by 2032. The proposed regulation, which aims to further combat the ongoing issue of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and would not be finalized until next year, has been hailed as ambitious by environmental groups but is expected to meet some opposition from auto makers and the U.S. general public.

While many U.S. auto makers have already increased their focus on EV development, as well as improvement of vehicle gas mileage and reduction of tailpipe pollution, some maintain that regulatory mandates cannot on their own dictate the success of the EV transition. Lingering financial and infrastructural challenges may impede EV sales without further federal support.

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs (AP-NORC) and Energy Pollution Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) found only 19% of U.S. adults stated it was very/extremely likely the next vehicle they purchased would be electric; 22% stated it was somewhat likely, and 47% stated it was not likely. While two-thirds of those polled cited a preference for gasoline vehicles as a contributing factor to their decision, high cost and the lack of a nationwide network of charging stations remained significant barriers.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the average cost of an EV in the U.S. is currently $58,600, as compared to $46,000 for traditional (internal combustion) vehicles. While there are currently tax credits of up to $7,500 for new EVs, that number could decrease with new Treasury department regulations that will limit those that qualify. These regulations will be in place starting April 18. The reduction of tax credit incentives will undoubtedly factor into consumer decisions, as six out of 10 U.S. adults polled by the AP-NORC and EPIC have already cited high cost as an obstacle to purchasing EVs.

The future availability of charging stations, however, may look a bit more promising. President Biden has set a goal of 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide, allocating $5 billion from the 2021 infrastructure law to install or upgrade chargers along 75,000 miles of highway. Tesla has also pledged it will make some of its charging stations available to all EVs in the U.S. by next year’s end. This could be a massive factor in promoting EV purchases in the coming years.