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One Year After White House Executive Order on Clean Vehicles: Good Progress, But Much More Needs to be Done

WASHINGTON, D.C.– It was one year ago today that President Biden signed an executive order aimed at making half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger vehicles by 60%, and reducing pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.


At the time, Consumer Reports, the independent, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, said it was encouraging to see the White House taking steps to help drivers save money on fueling costs, provide more choices for clean vehicles, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


Over the past year, the federal government has made good progress on these goals for ZEVs and emissions by:


  • Setting strong fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards through model year 2026 that put the auto market on track to meet these goals
  • Passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill which allocated $7.5B to expand a nationwide EV charging network
  • Proposing stronger nitrogen oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. 
  • Advancing a budget reconciliation bill that contains provisions for clean vehicles such as electric vehicles (EVs), including a $4,000 credit for used cars and up to $7,500 for new cars manufactured in North America.


Despite this progress so far, much more needs to be done.


With new standards in place for light-duty vehicles through model year 2026, another round of standards are needed to set the direction for model years 2027 and beyond. If these new standards meet the goals set forth in the executive order, they have the potential to save consumers over $1 trillion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 billion tons through 2050. EPA and NHTSA should move as quickly as feasible through the regulatory process and finalize these standards early next year, while ensuring that they are at least as stringent as called for in last year’s executive order. 


“In the past year since this executive order was signed, the consumer demand picture has changed a lot. Our latest survey results show that there are enough consumers who say they “definitely” would buy an EV today to account for every EV that would be built between now and 2030 under the President’s plan,” Says Chris Harto, Senior Sustainability Policy Analyst for Consumer Reports. 


“What seemed like an ambitious plan a year ago may leave a lot of consumers waiting way too long to get their hands on the EVs they want. Automakers and regulators may need to further accelerate their plans if they want to keep up with rapidly-growing consumer demand, and prevent perpetual years-long waitlists for these money saving vehicles,” Harto said. 


To help ensure that this rapid, consumer-driven transition is an equitable one, Congress should act quickly to pass the Inflation Reduction Act agreed upon by key Senate leaders. This legislation will greatly increase the accessibility and affordability of electric vehicles for more Americans, while also providing resources to build more resilient and sustainable supply chains. The new used vehicle tax credits included in this legislation will help ensure that EVs are more affordable for the 70% of Americans who buy used vehicles. 


It is also key that the EPA finalize heavy-duty vehicle emission standards that are as stringent as feasible. While heavy-duty vehicles make up only 5% of on-road vehicles, they currently account for around 32% of NOx emissions and 24% of greenhouse emissions from transportation.  These emissions are linked to serious climate and health risks that are especially significant for the estimated 72 million people living within 220 yards of a truck freight route. Communities living near these routes are disproportionately people of color and people with lower incomes.


“Stringent standards are needed to mitigate the health and environmental impacts of heavy-duty vehicles, said Mary Greene, Senior Policy Counsel, Sustainability Policy for Consumer Reports.  “As we make the transition to cleaner vehicles for consumers, we also need to limit the emissions from heavy-duty vehicles that can have an enormously negative effect on consumers’ health.”