Auto-Industry Group Assails Biden’s Plan to Electrify America’s Cars

But last year, all-electric vehicles accounted for just 5.8 percent of new cars sold in the United States. Mr. Biden last year signed a law designed to encourage Americans to buy more electric vehicles by providing up to $7,500 in tax credits to purchasers, but many foreign-made vehicles aren’t eligible for the tax credits.

Experts say that the new regulation provides an essential stick to go with the carrot of the tax incentives. Achieving the administration’s goals could be harder if auto companies succeed in weakening the rule. The Environmental Protection Administration published its proposed rule earlier this spring and it is in the process of soliciting public comments ahead of finalizing and implementing the rule by the first half of next year.

The auto companies’ concerns are expected to influence the final rule, particularly as Mr. Biden campaigns for re-election in politically critical auto-making states like Michigan and Ohio.

The pushback against the rule is the latest in a yearslong back-and-forth between Washington and the auto industry over climate pollution.

Former President Barack Obama first increased fuel-economy standards in an effort to jump-start a transition to electric vehicles, and secured grudging support from the country’s Big Three automakers at the time because his administration had just bailed them out of bankruptcy during the global economic crisis.

Later, President Donald J. Trump rolled back the Obama-era rules so much that even some automakers protested that he had gone too far. Since then, Mr. Biden has sought to reinstate and expand the Obama rules. In 2021 he signed an executive order pledging to pursue policies to ensure that at least half of all new cars sold in the United States are all-electric by 2030.

But his administration took the auto industry by surprise this spring with the proposed rule that went considerably further. His proposal aims for 67 percent of sales of new light-duty passenger vehicles, from sedans to pickup trucks, to be all-electric by 2032.

Biden administration regulators are expected to weigh public comments before revising and finalizing proposals. Historically, many proposed environmental rules have been loosened to accommodate industry concerns.

The auto-lobbying group said it doesn’t oppose all regulations designed to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, but suggested in its comments that the Biden administration lower its target to 40 or 50 percent electric sales by 2030, rather than the 67 percent by 2032 proposed by the current rule.

In a blog post, John Bozzella, the president of the group, suggested that the Biden administration include plug-in hybrid vehicles in its target, rather than pushing for such rapid adoption of all-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids use internal combustion engines in combination with battery power.

Representatives from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t return emails seeking comment.

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