EV Cars

The DOE rule could encourage more plug-in hybrids and fewer electric vehicles

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has unveiled a revised rule that would effectively give automakers more flexibility on pending EPA rules for the 2027 to 2032 model years — and more time to boost electric vehicle sales, compared to a previous proposal.

The final rule for Calculating fuel consumption in petroleum equivalents was released late Tuesday. While the emissions standards that EPA Administrator Michael Regan confirmed as completed on Wednesday have not changed, the petroleum equivalent component departs from what the Biden administration had put in place as part of that tougher framework – by extending the phase-in period by three years of the PEF has been heavily revised and effectively cut by 65% ​​over this period, down from the previously proposed 72% by 2027.

The EPA has made this clear Electric vehicles were not required through its upcoming rules announced last year. At the time, the agency estimated that fleet emissions targets as originally proposed would result in a 67% increase in electric vehicle sales by 2032.

The problem with the rules, voiced by many environmental groups and even supported by some automakers, was actually that it allowed automakers to include electric vehicles in their new vehicle fleets at a disproportionate advantage.

2023 Toyota Prius Prime

2023 Toyota Prius Prime

This change, which some would view as a clever workaround by automakers to circumvent the rules now enabled by the DOE, has been rumored and anticipated for weeks, if not months. The New York Times reported in February that the Biden administration was considering one slower adoption of electric vehicles.

The reassessment is likely due in part to complaints from automakers. There was broad support for the rules in the period leading up to its announcement last year, but since then there has been more restraint – particularly from General Motors, which said so in July last year that there were problems with the electric vehicle sales targets implied in the proposed rules.

However, as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) notes, full-year electric vehicle sales in 2023 were 50% higher than in 2022. More than 1.4 million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2023, and they accounted for 9.1% of new vehicle sales and exceeded many forecasts, noted EDF. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) now estimates that electric vehicles will account for 28% of new vehicle sales in the US by 2026.

With the petroleum equivalent factor changing more slowly, automakers may now be able to meet emissions targets with a larger number of plug-in hybrids, sources said Reutersand automakers could comply by offering more than a third of the vehicles they produce as plug-in hybrids by 2032.

2026 Cadillac Vistiq

2026 Cadillac Vistiq

“Although the Department has not changed the PEF value for over 23 years, the DOE has the statutory authority to review the PEF value annually,” the DOE reminded.

The EPA will also reportedly scale back proposed regulations on particulate emissions from gasoline vehicles at the behest of automakers, who have argued that the proposed rules would require particulate filters for almost all gasoline vehicles. Such filters are already practically mandatory for light diesel vehicles and are already widely used in petrol vehicles in Europe.

EDF estimates that the initially proposed emissions rules would reduce particulate matter emissions by about 246,000 tonnes and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than a million tonnes by 2055. The organization estimates this could help prevent more than 32,000 premature deaths, nearly 45,000 hospital and emergency room visits, more than 16 million asthma attacks and an estimated 6 million lost work and school days by 2055.

with reporting by Bengt Halvorson

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