The Biden administration is using its new fuel efficiency rules to target trucks, a move that a top environmental group says will "help tackle the 'truckification'" of America.
President Joe Biden's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday unveiled standards that would force automakers to improve fuel efficiency in their trucks by 4 percent a year from 2027 to 2032. That figure is double the proposed mileage improvement requirements for cars, prompting left-wing environmental group Center for Biological Diversity to praise Biden for working to get trucks off the road. "It does help tackle the 'truckification' of the fleet with stronger standards for SUVs and pickups than cars," said Dan Becker, the center's climate transport director.
Biden plans to use the proposal to ensure that two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the United States are electric by 2032. And while electric vehicles largely haven't caught on with U.S. consumers, gas-powered trucks are the most popular vehicles in the country. Ford's F-Series has been the top-selling vehicle in America for more than four decades, and though the lineup now includes an electric option, just 15,617 of the roughly 654,000 F-Series trucks Ford sold in 2022 were electric. Ford's truck sales have climbed in 2023—electric vehicles represent less than 3 percent of those sales.
Gas-powered trucks similarly drive sales for other leading automakers. The Chevy Silverado and Ram Pickup ranked second and third in the nation in sales in 2022, respectively, while the GMC Sierra came in sixth.
The popularity of gas-powered trucks could explain why leading automakers have blasted the Biden administration's electric vehicle mandates. Toyota and Stellantis—the latter of which makes Ram trucks—say Biden's goal to make two-thirds of new vehicle sales electric in just nine years is "overly optimistic" and "underestimates key challenges." The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that represents the world's top automakers, agrees—its leaders say the regulations are "neither reasonable nor achievable" and would prompt huge price hikes.
"When the companies that will build the millions of EVs required by these regulations say the pace and balance of [the administration's] rules are out of whack," alliance president and CEO John Bozzella wrote last month, "regulators and policymakers should believe them."
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Electric vehicle batteries require massive amounts of minerals, which are overwhelmingly mined and refined outside of the United States. As a result, producing an electric vehicle emits more carbon than producing a gas-powered one, a problem that Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark Mills says could mean that the vehicles don't help the environment.
"If implemented, [internal combustion engine] bans will lead to … draconian constraints on freedoms and unprecedented impediments to affordable and convenient driving," Mills wrote in a July report. "And it will have little to no impact on global carbon emissions. In fact, the bans and EV mandates are more likely to cause a net increase in emissions."