US President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order setting a goal that 50% of all new vehicles sold in the country would be electric ones by 2030.
That quota includes hydrogen-fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
This is a voluntary goal with automakers saying they expect federal support for vehicle charging stations along with tax incentives to make the cars more affordable.
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler said in a joint statement that they are aiming at between 40% and 50% EV sales by the Biden target date.
But that also means that 50% of cars sold out of showrooms in 2030 will not be electric — so Mr Biden’s administration has also signalled that internal combustion engines will have to become more efficient.
By 2026, the Environmental Protection Agency proposes the average efficiency of petrol-powered cars will have to be 52 miles (83.7km) per gallon (3.8 litres), replacing the 43.3m (69.7km) mandated by former President Donald Trump.
Climate group says Biden move inadequate
Not everyone is happy: US environment group, the Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said the administration has not gone far enough and added the commitments by car makers in America were “unreliable” because it was not binding.
(Also, the fact that the other 50% of vehicles coming off the assembly lines in 2030 will be powered by fossil fuels will mean plenty of gas-guzzlers and emission-emitters on the roads for some years after. According to the London-based market research company, IHS Markit, an American car on average has a 11.9-year lifespan – meaning the 2030 models may still be around in big numbers until 2042.)
Mr Biden’s own party has urged him to make EV targets binding and to set a time limit for petrol-powered cars to be banned, but the president has heeded the calls of the autoworker unions not to go down that path.
Also unhappy is Tesla — but that’s because they, unlike GM and Ford, were not invited to the White House for the announcement.
There is speculation that this was due to the Biden administration also pampering the unions, and Tesla is not a unionised shop.
BMW sees EV sales up nearly 150%
In another current development, German automaker BMW is reporting that in the six months to June it saw a huge increase in EV sales.
BMW said sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrids rose by 148.6% to 153,243 units, while deliveries of all-electric models jumped by 183.9% to 36,087 units.
Tasmania charging ahead
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Tasmanian Government committed another $600,000 to support EV growth.
This second Electric Vehicles ChargeSmart grants program will finance charging stations in the island state’s key tourism areas, with grants of up to $50,000 for new fast charging stations and $2,500 for individual charging installations.
It follows the first series of grants that supported 14 new fast charging stations and 23 individual and workplace stations.
A word of caution from Jeremy Clarkson
Finally, two weeks ago Jeremy Clarkson, formerly of the “Top Gear” television program and probably the world’s top auto writer, questioned in his weekly British newspaper column both the environmental credentials of EVs and their economics.
“For every tonne of the chemicals mined to make the batteries, 75 million tonnes of acid wastewater [is] produced. And making an electric car produces 60% more greenhouse gases than would be produced making a car that runs on petrol,” he wrote.
“Polestar, the Swedish electric car company, has admitted that you’d need to drive one of its cars 48,500 miles (78,000km) before its carbon footprint was smaller than the carbon footprint from a normal Volvo XC40.
“And of course, after 48,500 miles, the battery pack would almost certainly need replacing. So really, the electric car will never catch up.”
“My advice, then, is simple,” Mr Clarkson concluded.
“One day, you’ll be forced by fools in Whitehall to buy electric. But until then, don’t bother, because they’re not great for the environment, they’re expensive and they’re a bloody nuisance when they need charging up,” he added.