An electric vehicle charging station is seen on display at the 2019 New York International Auto Show in New York
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday aimed at making half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions and proposed new vehicle-emission rules to cut pollution through 2026, the White House said.
Biden’s goal, which is not legally binding, won the support of major U.S. and foreign automakers that warned it would require billions of dollars in government funding.
After he signed the order, he walked away and jumped into an EV Jeep, which he proceeded to drive rapidly around the White House grounds, even honking at one point to let people know he was coming.
“To unlock the full potential, we have to keep investing in our workers and our manufacturers,” Biden said.
General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler-parent Stellantis NV said in a joint statement they aspired “to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles… by 2030.” Reuters reported the planned automaker announcement on Tuesday.
Biden’s 50% goal and the automakers’ 40-50% aspiration includes battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles that also have a gasoline-engine.
Biden has repeatedly resisted calls from many Democrats to set a binding requirement for EV adoption or to follow California and some countries in setting 2035 as a date to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered light duty vehicles in the face of opposition by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
UAW President Ray Curry, who attended the event, noted the EV goal but said it was focused “on preserving the wages and benefits that have been the heart and soul of the American middle class.”
Biden’s new executive order sets a new schedule for developing new emissions standards through at least 2030 for light duty vehicles and as early as 2027 for larger vehicles.
Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said the plan “relies on unenforceable voluntary commitments from unreliable car makers… Voluntary pledges by auto companies make a New Year’s weight-loss resolution look like a legally binding contract.”
General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Farley were among those in attendance.
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, whose company makes EVs, tweeted early on Thursday: “Seems odd that Tesla wasn’t invited.”
Asked if White House was not inviting Musk because from Thursday’s event because it is not a union shop, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.”
The Detroit 3 automakers said the aggressive EV sales goals can only be met with billions of dollars in government incentives including consumer subsidies, EV charging networks as well as “investments in R&D, and incentives to expand the electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains in the United States.”
Hyundai said it supports the 2030 40-50% EV sales goal, while Nissan said it has a target that more than 40% of its U.S. vehicle sales by 2030 as EVs.
Toyota said in a statement the goal was “great for the environment” and that it would “do our part.”
Meanwhile, U.S. regulators plan to propose revising former President Donald Trump’s March 2020 rollback of fuel economy standards. Trump required 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts set in 2012 by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Biden’s proposed rules, which cover 2023-2026, are expected to be similar in overall vehicle emissions reductions to California’s 2019 deal with some automakers that aims to improve fuel economy 3.7% annually through 2026, sources told Reuters.
BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Ford and Volvo Cars – which previously struck the California deal – said in a joint statement they support the administration’s EV goal but that the federal government must take “bold action … to build consumer demand.”
Consulting firm AlixPartners in June said investments in EVs by 2025 could total $330 billion. EVs now represent about 2% of total global vehicle sales, and will be about 24% of total sales by 2030, it forecast.
Biden has called for $174 billion in government spending to boost EVs, including $100 billion in consumer incentives. A bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill includes $7.5 billion for EV charging stations but no money for new consumer incentives.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Sam Holmes and Marguerita Choy)
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The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Ramos Arispe
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U.S. President Biden addresses a meeting with Latino community leaders at the White House in Washington