June 12, 2024

EPA finalizes new vehicle emissions standard

The Biden administration announced new automobile emissions standards March 20 that officials called the most ambitious plan ever to cut planet-warming emissions from passenger vehicles.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized new emissions regulations that will apply to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty vehicles starting with the 2027 model year, but does not eliminate gas vehicles.

The EPA expects that under the new rules, electric vehicles could account for up to 56% of new passenger vehicles sold for model years 2030 through 2032.

Light-duty trucks refers to pickups and some SUVs. Medium-duty vehicles are larger trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds.

“The final rule builds upon EPA’s final standards for federal greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and leverages advances in clean car technology to unlock benefits to Americans ranging from improving public health through reducing smog- and soot-forming pollution from vehicles, to reducing climate pollution, to saving drivers money through reduced fuel and maintenance costs,” the EPA said.

These standards will phase in over model years 2027 through 2032.

The EPA rules were not written as an EV mandate or ban on the sale of gasoline cars. Instead, the EPA sets standards that apply across and entire fleet — meaning automakers can still make vehicles with higher emissions, provided they also make enough very low or zero-emission vehicles that averages it out.

That means over the next decade, automakers can continue to offer a range of vehicle types, but the “menu” that’s available to consumers will shift to be cleaner overall, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

“Compared to the existing model year 2026 standards, the final model year 2032 standards represent a nearly 50% reduction in projected fleet average greenhouse gas emissions levels for light-duty vehicles and 44% reductions for medium-duty vehicles,” the EPA said.

“In addition, the standards are expected to reduce emissions of health-harming fine particulate matter from gasoline-powered vehicles by over 95%.”

Cost/Savings

EPA estimates that the standards will increase the per-vehicle technology costs to auto manufacturers by about $1,200 for light-duty vehicles and $1,400 for medium-duty vehicles over the six-year average from model years 2027 to 2032.

This estimate represents compliance costs to the industry and is not the same as the price consumers pay when purchasing a new vehicle.

For example, purchase price could be reduced by any state and federal purchase incentives that are available to consumers.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, consumers are eligible for up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new plug-in hybrid or full battery electric vehicle.

“In addition, consumers will benefit from significant savings on operating costs, including fuel, maintenance and repair savings, over the life of vehicles that meet the standards,” the EPA said.

“Although EPA cannot predict how an individual manufacturer will price vehicles, we project that the average increase in the technology costs of a new vehicle will be more than fully offset by significant savings in operating costs.

“We estimate that on average consumers will save about $6,000 over the lifetime of a model year 2032 vehicle, compared to a vehicle meeting the 2026 standards.”

Dave Rylander

Comments

EPA’s ruling was met with mixed reactions:

“The EPA has made significant progress on its final greenhouse gas emissions rule for light-duty vehicles. 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 internal combustion vehicles, while providing a path forward for automakers to implement the full range of automotive technologies to reduce emissions.”

Shawn Fain, president

United Automobile Workers

“This regulation will make new gas-powered vehicles unavailable or prohibitively expensive for most Americans. For them, this wildly unpopular policy is going to feel and function like a ban. Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, Congress has to make a decision whether to protect consumer choice, U.S. manufacturing workers and our hard-won energy security by overturning this deeply flawed regulation. Short of that, our organizations are certainly prepared to challenge it in court.”

Chet Thomas, president and CEO

American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers

and

Mike Sommers, president and CEO

American Petroleum Institute

“While electric vehicles clearly have a role in our vehicle mix, the middle class cannot succeed with the EPA forcing an unworkable, expensive EV quota on working class families. State mandates have not led to widespread public adoption of EVs — sales are actually on the decline. The lack of electric grid and charging infrastructures, long recharge times, high EV costs and governmental failure to ensure U.S. critical mineral supplies are all challenges that won’t be solved anytime soon. These policies harm our middle class and place America’s energy security in the hands of totalitarian regimes that control the vast majority of critical minerals mining, processing and refining, while leaving working families holding the bill.”

David Holt, president

Consumer Energy Alliance

“These final standards send a powerful message about the accelerating transition to electric vehicles in the United States and for the first time put the nation on a path to decarbonizing the light- and medium-duty vehicle sectors.”

Rachel Muncrief, acting executive director

International Council on Clean Transportation

“This is a very disappointing day for Illinois corn farmers. The EPA has picked their preferred technology for the transportation industry without regard to their published goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions or how best to achieve the goal. Their one-size-fits-all solution is for the entire nation to convert to battery electric vehicles, no matter if the infrastructure exists, no matter if the battery materials come from hostile countries, no matter if Americans want to buy these vehicles. Most important for Illinois corn farmers, they are also ignoring the impact on farmers and rural communities. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has already warned that this policy could have the unintended consequence of a 50% decrease in the price of corn and a potential $100 billion decline in the collective value of farmland in the Midwest. They predict if these forecasts come true, there will be profound implications for the financial viability of Midwestern farming operations and the nation’s food supply. Corn-based ethanol can contribute to this very important goal of cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 40% to 45% over regular petroleum fuel, it invests in our local economies and it allows Americans to buy the cars they want to buy. Corn farmers have been asking continuously over the last ten years for the opportunity to help decarbonize liquid fuels. Why is the Biden administration ignoring an easy opportunity to accomplish their goals and invest in America?”

Dave Rylander, president

Illinois Corn Growers Association

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor