A Push for Electric Vehicles
President Biden yesterday set an ambitious goal for the transition to electric vehicles: By 2030, half of all new vehicles sold in the United States are expected to be electric.
Executives from America’s three biggest automakers have joined Biden in the White House, promising that 40 to 50 percent of their new car sales will be electric by the end of the decade.
Electric vehicles are “a vision for the future that is now starting to materialize,” Biden said. “The question is whether we are going to lead or fall behind in the race for the future.”
Can an electric car revolution happen in less than a decade? Today we’re going to walk you through the possibilities and potential pitfalls, with help from our colleague Coral Davenport, who covers climate change.
A major change
Electric vehicles are part of Biden’s efforts to tackle climate change. Gasoline vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, producing more than a quarter of the country’s total emissions.
“A rapid shift from fossil fuel combustion engines to electric vehicles is an essential step towards mitigating climate change,” said Coral. “You can’t solve climate change without getting rid of it. Biden is also preparing to tighten auto mileage and pollution standards.
Its electric car push is also an attempt to keep American industry competitive. As our colleagues Jack Ewing and Neal Boudette report, Europe and China are using regulations and subsidies for automakers to bolster electric vehicles. Europe has proposed to ban the sale of gasoline cars by 2035. Chinese automakers are expanding, with government help, into new markets around the world.
Achieving Biden’s goal will require rapid change. In June, less than 4% of new cars sold in the United States were electric or plug-in hybrids.
But the shift to electric vehicles has accelerated this year, starting with General Motors announcing in January that petroleum cars will be phased out by 2035. Other automakers have followed suit, including Mercedes. -Benz, Volvo and Daimler, the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy trucks. Ford introduced an electric version of its F-150 pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the United States
Experts and executives at major auto companies believe Biden’s goal is achievable. “It is technologically possible to replace most of the cars already in circulation with equally affordable and powerful electric models over the next decade,” said Coral.
Will consumers bite?
As governments strive to make electric vehicles more available, the bigger question is whether people will buy them.
“The consumer in central America just isn’t there yet,” a St. Louis-area car dealership told The Wall Street Journal this year. The long distances some people travel and the widespread lack of charging stations are barriers to change.
There are approximately 43,000 charging stations in the United States today. Biden has called for building a network of 500,000 chargers over the decade, though the latest version of his infrastructure bill only included half of the $ 15 billion in funding he offered.
Electric vehicles also tend to have higher sticker prices than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Europe and China have offered cash incentives to consumers, and more affordable options in the United States are becoming available. An MIT study found that by factoring in fuel and maintenance costs, electric cars can save drivers money.
Most experts say the nation’s power grid can handle millions of new electric cars, but that will require careful planning, our colleague Brad Plumer wrote. If every American drove an electric vehicle, the United States could end up using about 25% more electricity than it does today.
“The wholesale conversion of the transportation system and the electric power system are WWII-wide undertakings, and it’s only just getting started,” Michael Gerrard, an attorney specializing in the field, told The Times. environment.
Some unions have also expressed concerns about the change, as electric vehicles require fewer workers to assemble than gasoline-powered cars or trucks. Biden hopes to offset any potential job losses by increasing the country’s capacity to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, Coral told us.
“But it’s a big boost,” she said. “Most of the battery manufacturing materials are found in Asia, and around 70% of the EV battery manufacturing business is already in China. “
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