,It's electric and there's no turning back: half of all cars sold in the US to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, announces President Joe Biden. — Reuters
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With executives from the Detroit automakers watching, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a target for half of all cars sold in the United States to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.
Biden cast the move as a way to compete with China and other countries that have invested in electric vehicles (EV), while also transforming the US transportation sector, which is the biggest source of the country's carbon emissions.
Speaking at the White House before an array of electric cars, Biden called them "a vision of the future that is now beginning to happen, a future of the automobile industry that is electric, battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, fuel cell electric."
"It's electric and there's no turning back. The question is whether we'll lead or fall behind," he said.
News of the announcement drew modest praise from environmentalists, who stressed the need for additional measures given the worsening climate situation.
The Sierra Club's Katherine Garcia called the target a "meaningful signal to manufacturers," but said it should be raised to 60% and be supplemented with "the strongest clean car standards possible."
Significantly increasing US usage of electric vehicles – which accounted for only about 2% of 2020 car sales – is expected to depend on expanding charging stations and other infrastructure, as well as convincing Americans to buy the cars.
The "Big 3" US automakers – General Motors, Ford and Stellantis – have all significantly expanded their EV investments, making the target "most likely achievable" by 2030, Jessica Caldwell of auto website Edmunds.com said.
"But what's possibly the biggest hurdle ahead is consumer acceptance: What will it take for Americans to be willing to change their car ownership habits to go electric?" Caldwell said.
In a joint statement, the Detroit manufacturers expressed their "shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50%" of the vehicles, but said the shift "can be achieved only" with initiatives such as consumer incentives to buy EVs and new infrastructure like a charging network.
While Biden has proposed an infrastructure plan that would include many of those programmes, not all have made it into the Senate's bipartisan compromise bill viewed as having the best chance of passing in Congress.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), one of the country's largest auto worker unions, rallied behind the move.
"The members of the UAW, current and future, are ready to build these electric cars and trucks and the batteries that go in them," President Ray Curry said in a statement released by the Biden administration.
Left out of the Washington launch event was Tesla, Elon Musk's company that has been credited with accelerating the popularity of EVs in the United States and leads in domestic sales.