Americans Aren't Sold on Electric Cars. Biden Wants to Force Automakers to Sell Them Anyway.

Just 19 percent say they're 'very likely' to buy an EV as Biden pushes rule that would make them commonplace

Vice President Kamala Harris charges an electric vehicle in 2021 / Getty Images
April 11, 2023

Less than one-fifth of Americans say they're very likely to make their next vehicle an electric one, a new poll shows. That isn't stopping President Joe Biden from pushing a rule that would force U.S. automakers to sell electric cars.

Just 19 percent of Americans say it's "very" or "extremely" likely they'll purchase an electric vehicle when they need a new car, according to a new Associated Press poll, while 22 percent say they're "somewhat likely" to do so. Nearly half of respondents, meanwhile, say they aren't likely to go electric, citing the high cost associated with electric vehicles as the main deterrent. Electric vehicles on average cost at least $10,000 more than their gas-powered counterparts.

Despite America's hesitance toward electric cars, Biden is barreling forward with an environmental rule that would effectively mandate an electric vehicle revolution. The Democrat's Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce on Wednesday the proposed rule, which will impose a strict emissions limit on vehicles sold. In order to comply with the limit, U.S. automakers must ensure that two-thirds of the vehicles they sell are electric by 2032, according to the New York Times.

Such an aggressive transition to electric vehicles would bring increased costs far beyond the cars' higher sticker prices. Experts say the United States will need to build more than 2 million charging stations to support an electric vehicle revolution—Biden's 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $7.5 billion to build just 500,000. Widespread electric vehicle use also requires expensive investments in power grids, which must be upgraded to withstand sky-high demand as millions of Americans plug in their cars. Such an investment will almost certainly cost tens of billions of dollars, given that California alone must spend a whopping $9.3 billion to prepare its power grid for a green energy transition, according to the state's utility operator.

Biden has promised Americans that his electric vehicle push will prompt a "manufacturing boom" and create "new economic opportunity and tens of thousands of good-paying and union jobs across the country." But labor leaders say that a transition to electric vehicles would actually kill auto industry jobs, given that electric cars take considerably fewer workers to build.

"We've dealt with the loss of jobs before through technology, but when you talk about the speed of this, it's hard to fathom that we won't lose jobs," United Auto Workers leader Mark DePaoli said in response to Biden's proposed rule.