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US unveils new emission rules as country delays EV transition until 2030

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New emission rules in US revealed as country slows EV transition through 2030

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new emissions standards that focus on a “technology neutral” approach, allowing automakers more freedom to meet regulations with gas-electric hybrids and advanced gasoline technologies, rather than mandating electric vehicles. The EPA claims these rules will deliver equivalent pollution reduction as more aggressive EV proposals.

EPA administrator Michael Regan emphasized the flexibility of the new standards, stating there is “absolutely no mandate” for electric vehicles. The revised proposal aims to cut emissions by 49% by 2032 compared to 2026 levels, aligning closely with last year’s more stringent proposal. This decision reflects political pressure as the road to the White House goes through industrial states like Michigan, where EV transitions could impact jobs.

Despite the softened approach, the new rules are expected to lead to significant reductions in emissions. The EPA projects a 50% reduction in fleetwide tailpipe emissions by 2026 levels and a decrease of 7.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases by 2055. The agency’s projections for EV adoption, ranging from 35% to 56% of all sales between 2030 and 2032, highlight the flexibility automakers have in meeting these regulations.

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While electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the U.S. remains relatively low, hybrid sales have been increasing, potentially signaling a surge in hybrid demand following the new regulations. However, environmentalists and EV advocates have criticized hybrids as a delay in the transition to fully electric vehicles, expressing concerns about actual CO2 emissions from plug-in hybrids. Some climate activists view the EPA’s decision as a missed opportunity for significant climate action.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has supported the more flexible regulations, as they aim to protect auto jobs, especially in regions like Detroit where EV transitions could impact the labor force. The EPA’s rule provides some relief for heavy-duty pickup truck franchises, such as Ford’s Super Duty pickups, allowing them a longer timeline to meet emissions standards compared to passenger cars or lighter trucks.

As automakers like General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis welcome the flexibility in the new rules, investors and analysts see this as an opportunity to reduce investments in electric vehicles that may not be profitable in the short term. The EPA’s decision reflects lobbying efforts from various industry stakeholders, including the UAW, automakers, and trade groups advocating for more achievable targets during the EV transition.

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