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How Far, How Fast, Will Electric Car Policies Go?

The federal government, and even some automakers, seemed poised to nudge the country toward a future of electric vehicles. But the American preference for large trucks will be an obstacle to those plans.
February 10, 2021, 8am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"After four years of bitter fighting, California and the federal government agree they need to set ambitious climate goals, and major automakers are increasingly betting that the future of their business lies with electric cars," reports Anna M. Phillips.

The discussion follows a groundbreaking executive order signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2020 committing the largest state in the nation to end sales of new gasoline powered cars by 2035.

Trends in the automotive market of recent years have been moving the needle the other direction, according to Phillips, as more Americans are increasingly buying larger SUVs and pickup trucks. An analysis published in January 2021 shows the market shift to SUVs and pickups has overwhelmed the potential carbon reductions from EV use. Some automakers have signaled a willingness to change direction. General Motors, for example, recently announced ambitions to achieve carbon neutrality in its fleet and its operations by 2040.

Other studies have also shown that switching to electric vehicles won't entirely remove emissions and pollution from private transportation in the United States.

The dilemma facing the Biden administration is how to calibrate electric vehicle policies relative to market preferences for larger, gas-powered vehicles. "This divide between the reality of America’s auto market and what the federal government and some automakers hope it will become is certain to create dilemmas for the Biden administration as it sets out to negotiate a new set of fuel-economy standards," writes Phillips.

The article includes a specific list of policy efforts the Biden might undertake to begin removing greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, much of which will be devoted to undoing the deregulatory efforts of the Trump administration.

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Published on Monday, February 8, 2021 in Los Angeles Times
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