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Consumer Reports to U.S. Senate panel: Clean vehicle policies help consumers save money while reducing emissions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chris Harto, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports’ sustainability policy team, testified today at a U.S. Senate hearing on clean vehicle policies to discuss the consumer benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to limit vehicle emissions. 

The hearing by the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works’ Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety hearing is available here.  

In his testimony this afternoon, Harto said that consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is surging, while automakers are lagging in meeting this demand. While the new EPA proposal does not mandate EVs, automakers would likely increase EV production rapidly in order to stay within the emissions limits. And Harto notes that EVs are not the only option for automakers to meet the new EPA standards: 

“Consumer demand for electric vehicles has been soaring, increasing by 350% between 2020 and 2022,” Harto said, citing data from a recent CR analysis. “Unfortunately, automakers have not been keeping up. There are now 45 consumers who say they would ‘definitely buy’ an EV for every EV being manufactured. Meanwhile, 30 percent of new car buyers are not even considering a conventional, non-hybrid vehicle.”

Harto said, “EPA’s proposal is ambitious but achievable. The analysis by EPA found that EVs are likely to be the most cost-effective pathway for automakers to comply with the proposed standards.  But EVs are not the only option. Automakers can also use a mix of improvements in internal combustion fuel efficiency, conventional hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and even hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to comply.”

Consumer challenges such as charging infrastructure and affordability will continue to improve due to the unprecedented investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, Harto said.

A 2020 analysis by CR found that EVs are cheaper to own than comparable gasoline vehicles, with EVs saving consumers an average of 60 percent on fuel and 50 percent on repairs and maintenance, which translates to a savings of $6,000 to 10,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle, even factoring in higher purchase prices. 

What’s more, higher purchase prices for EVs are likely to be temporary, Harto said. As of January automakers and battery manufacturers already plan to invest $210 billion in U.S. manufacturing by 2030. As these investments bear fruit, technology improvements, economies of scale, and intensified competition for customers will feed cost declines, which will help create a virtuous cycle between declining costs and increasing demand.

Harto told the committee: “EPA’s proposed standards will hit the accelerator, helping to drive automakers to catch up to consumer demand for cleaner vehicles. We see these rules as a win-win for consumers and the climate, putting over $1 trillion back into consumers pockets, while delivering massive reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org