Biden Administration Announces New Tailpipe Emissions Rules

Taking into consideration feedback from automakers and the UAW, the final rule adopts a more gradual approach to phasing in regulations and allows for a mix of technologies.


The Biden administration on March 20 introduced stringent tailpipe regulations for passenger cars and trucks, designed to significantly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.

However, the final rule adopts a more gradual approach to phasing in these new regulations, offering automakers a broader spectrum of compliance options, following discussions with auto manufacturers and labor unions, who have advocated for a more flexible framework to meet the ambitious climate goals.

Originally, the EPA had proposed an aggressive strategy to ensure two-thirds of all new vehicles sold would be electric by 2030. This plan has been modified to allow for a substantial increase in the sale of plug-in hybrids, alongside pure electric vehicles, by the end of the next decade.

“By taking seriously the concerns of workers and communities, the EPA has come a long way to create a more feasible emissions rule that protects workers building ICE vehicles, while providing a path forward for automakers to implement the full range of automotive technologies to reduce emissions,” the United Automobile Workers (UAW) said in a statement.

According to recent data from Kelley Blue Book, EVs accounted for only 7.6% of new car sales in 2023. Under the new regulations, the target is set for EVs to comprise between 35% and 56% of new vehicle sales by 2032, with plug-in hybrids aiming for 13% to 36%.

The EPA's new rule is designed to cut passenger car pollution nearly in half by 2032 compared to 2026 levels, promising a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants detrimental to human health.

The final rule gives auto manufacturers the flexibility to efficiently reduce emissions and meet the standards through the mix of technologies they decide is best for them and their customers – including gasoline engines, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said automakers are committed to the EV transition, but pace matters.

“Moderating the pace of EV adoption in 2027, 2028, 2029 and 2030 was the right call because it prioritizes more reasonable electrification targets in the next few (very critical) years of the EV transition,” Bozzell said in a statement. “These adjusted EV targets – still a stretch goal – should give the market and supply chains a chance to catch up. It buys some time for more public charging to come online, and the industrial incentives and policies of the Inflation Reduction Act to do their thing.

“And the big one? The rules are mindful of the importance of choice to drivers and preserves their ability to choose the vehicle that’s right for them,” Bozzella added.

Despite the rule's perceived leniency, it represents a significant commitment to reducing automotive emissions and advancing the EV market. The EPA and the Biden administration remain confident this approach will not only address environmental concerns but also foster innovation and consumer choice in the auto industry.

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