By Joanna Button
What happened? Last week, the Biden administration announced new emissions standards for vehicles with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 10 billion tons over three decades. The proposed regulations would require 67 percent of new car sales to be electric by 2032—in 2022, less than 6 percent of cars produced in the U.S. were electric vehicles (E.V.s).
E.V. criticism: Critics of the regulations are concerned about E.V.s’ questionable battery life in colder climates and their price: The average E.V. in July 2022 cost $18,000 more than the average gas-powered car. A significant shift toward E.V.s would burden America’s already vulnerable electrical grid, possibly increasing blackouts. Additionally, though these efforts have been marketed as “green,” the production of E.V. batteries emits significant amounts of CO2.
Dependency on China: Forcing a shift to battery-powered vehicles may also make the U.S. dependent on China. According to one analysis, “China holds 78% of the world’s cell manufacturing capacity for E.V. batteries.” It also leads in the production of key components of E.V. batteries. China has also been consolidating its control over global E.V. production, investing in African mines where minerals essential to battery production can be found.
Conflicting regulation: Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act requires that E.V.s don’t have components from any “foreign entity of concern,” a category likely to include China. It seems enforcing both that and the new E.V. mandate isn’t feasible. Further, the Biden administration claims it wants to decrease energy dependency on China, but it has restricted mining projects across the country that would make the U.S. less dependent on Chinese mineral extraction.
The bottom line: Despite U.S. investment in E.V. battery production, most analysts agree the country has no chance of catching up to China’s production. The new E.V. mandate already seems like an impossible and unproductive endeavor. Pursuing it will likely increase America’s dependence on China while imposing higher costs on Americans.