US EPA to Propose New Vehicle Pollution Cuts, Sees Big EV Jump

New Lexus automobiles are shown for sale in Carlsbad, California, U.S., September 23, 2020.

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set as early as next week to propose new rules to spur sweeping cuts in vehicle emissions pollution that will push automakers towards a big increase in electric vehicle sales, sources told Reuters.

The proposed rules are expected to cover the 2027 through 2032 model years. Environmental groups and some automakers think the proposal will result in at least 50% of the U.S. vehicle fleet by 2030 being electric or plug-in hybrids – in line with a goal President Joe Biden outlined in 2021. The administration has not backed calls by California and others ban the sale of new gasoline-only light-duty vehicles by 2035.

In December 2021, the EPA finalized new light-duty tailpipe emissions requirements through the 2026 model year that reversed then-President Donald Trump’s rollback of car pollution cuts.

One big question is whether the new EPA rules will be as aggressive as California’s effort to ramp up zero-emission vehicles and phase out new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Steven Cliff told Reuters in December the federal government should “look at stringency that’s equivalent to our rules … We’re 68% zero emissions in 2030 so modeling that and looking at that as an option for 2030 is absolutely critical.”

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing nearly all automakers including Ford Motor F.N, Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE and Toyota Motor 7203.T, said Thursday the industry backs the shift to EVs. “The question isn’t whether it can be done, it’s how fast can it be done.”

Automakers have raised concerns the administration will require them to spend significant sums to improve the efficiency of internal combustion vehicles that will be phased out in the next decade. “Every dollar invested in internal combustion technology is a dollar not spent on zero carbon technology,” The alliance said.

Environmentalists want EPA to mandate significant pollution cuts for gas-powered vehicles because they will remain on the road for decades.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also plans in the coming weeks to propose new fuel economy standards.

California still needs approval from the Biden administration for its plan to phase out gasoline-only models and it has not yet submitted a formal request.

Tesla TSLA.Olast year called on California to mandate an end to gasoline-vehicles by 2030. General Motors GM.N has said it plans to end sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.