A new president in the US means new legislation. Specifically the amount of emission of a new car as well as the number of new EV – electric vehicles – on the market.
Congress plans to add $2500 to the amount of credit to US EVs with a possible additional $2500 if unions are involved. This means that more electric vehicles can be made – SUVs. pick-up trucks or whatever.
Joe Biden proclaims himself as “American car guy” but more precisely “American e-car guy”. In 2021 only 5% of all car sales were electric. There also needs to be a massive investment in charging stations. But it’s none too clear where they should be.
Although the path to further electric cars seems a path we will have to follow eventually it is still highly expensive and as a result controversial.
The vehicle metals need to be shipped from abroad. Many US citizens wish this wasn’t so and they were using metals from US mines though it primarily went into battery parts for the US market.
Previously there was a reliance on China for metals, which will be reversed by this legislation. The metal will come from such places as Canada and Brazil.
What will become or 2021?
2021 may seem like a pivotal year with the theme of “Build Back Better,” and it’s great PR to make bold claims, but how do these ideas stack up?
There’s a feeling in the air that it’s something that needs to happen but not exactly right now. Volvo for instance wants to remove combustion engine “tech” by 2030. General Motors wants to remove any emissions from the tailpipe by 2035. It’s not clear if this will be reached because of the 2021 legislation.
One way to tackle gas emissions in an increase in loans and funding, as suggested by the Environmental & Energy Program. There’s a number of costs involved in e-cars, such as expensive lithium batteries and the difficulties in charging the cars, when compared with filling up on gas or diesel it takes too long. Or so the current surveys may suggest…
There are also regulations designed to make passenger cars more efficient and decrease how much carbon dioxide it produces. It also affects light trucks – exactly why heavy trucks are omitted is unclear because the same agency (Corporate Agency Fuel Economy) also deals with larger vehicles. Nor does it seem to affect SUVs or crossovers, again vehicles known for their substantiality over their economy.
When compared to previous initiatives:
In 1970 congress passed the Clean Air Act and established the EPA to champion the cause. According to the EPA’s own site the 1970’s clean air act was a success(https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/accomplishments-and-success-air-pollution-transportation), but it’s noteworthy that US automakers couldn’t meet the standards by the initial deadline. They were nearly impossible to meet, although Japanese automakers Honda made it by the deadline and almost became the only brand allowed to be sold in the US. Congress ultimately extended the deadline giving US makers a chance to catch up.
By comparison, these new rules – not exactly laws – seem to have been led by public demand. The previous rules were hard for the companies to use, a far too high standard, these ones seem more realistic. There are always pressures from various quarters to bring down the numbers. Emissions are coming down but it’s not a steep decline.
This standard is expected to stay stable until 2026. They are based on ideas of being “tougher but feasible” according to Congress, ensuring that cars are safe and remain relatively affordable. It’s a compromise but it had to be in order to make progress.
On the subject of progress, there is some way to go. The companies which are agreeing to these changes make up only 30% of all cars sold in the US. Could it be described as only a token victory? Perhaps.