Find Your Perfect Policy: 866-843-5386

Last updated: April 18, 2023

The EPA Releases Most Aggressive Car Emission Standards Yet

What the plans mean for Americans, the automotive industry, and the future of electric cars

Twitter brand
Facebook brand
Linkedin brand
Reddit brand
Envelop icon

On April 12, the Biden-Harris administration released its most ambitious car emission proposal yet for tailpipe pollution limits. The plan aims to reduce billions of tons of CO2 emissions by accelerating the transition to low-emission vehicles and electric vehicles through 2055.

Below we’ll give you an overview of what the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing, the current state of electric vehicles in the U.S., and some of the biggest challenges and criticism the proposal is facing.

EPA Proposal Key Points

Here’s what the EPA is proposing and what it hopes to achieve through its new standards:

  • Electric car majority: Although the EPA does not require a specific number of electric cars to be built, it is mandating a limit on greenhouse gas emissions. Under those gas emission limits, it projects that electric cars could account for 67 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46 percent of new medium-duty sales by 2032.1 The light-duty standards are projected to result in a 56 percent reduction of fleet average greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, compared to the model year 2026 standards. In 2021, U.S. sales of electric vehicles reached nearly 1.5 million. Since 2000, that’s an increase of over 15,000 percent, with an average of 37 percent year-over-year growth.2
Total electric cars sold in the US

Total electric cars sold in the US


Tesla is no longer the world’s most popular electric car in the world. In 2022, Chinese automaker BYD surpassed Tesla to claim the highest EV sales worldwide.

  • CO2 emissions reduction: Through 2055, the EPA projects that its proposal could avoid almost 10 billion tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than twice the total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2022.
  • Maintenance costs and fuel savings: The plan would save the average consumer $12,000 in maintenance and fuel costs over the lifetime of a light-duty vehicle.
  • Benefits vs costs: The long-term benefits of the proposal would exceed its costs by at least $1 trillion.
  • Health benefits: The standards would reduce fine particulate matter in the air that contributes to:
    • Heart attacks
    • Respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses
    • Aggravated asthma
    • Decreased lung function
    • Premature death
  • Other key points: The plan would reduce oil imports by approximately $20 billion barrels, cut car emissions that contribute to climate change by half, and accelerate the widespread use of filters to reduce gasoline particles and other emission-reducing technologies for gas-powered vehicles.


In 2022, the European Commission approved a mandate that ensures all new cars and vans registered in Europe will be emission-free by 2035. The agreement also requires the average emission of new cars to be reduced by 55 percent, and new vans by 50 percent, by 2030.3

Critical Response to the Plan

Like all emission plans, the EPA has to go through several hurdles if it wants to achieve its projections. From charging station infrastructure issues, to criticism about the efficacy of EVs’ environmental impact, to disruptions in the oil market — here are some of the biggest critical responses to the plan.

  • Disruption of the oil industry: With increased EV adoption, we’re likely to see a decreased demand for oil and, counterintuitive to the laws of supply and demand, an increase in the price of oil. A decreased demand for new oil supplies would actually lead to an increase in the price of oil, volatility in the oil market, and a potential oil crisis.4 The reason for the price increase is because a drop in the demand for oil would lead to a decrease in drilling. And if there’s less oil due to less drilling, you can expect oil prices to increase (assuming the drop in oil capacity falls faster than the drop in demand for oil).
  • Publicly available charging stations: One of the biggest challenges the Biden-Harris administration faces is ensuring there are enough publicly available EV charging stations to support the market. As of April 2023, there were over 130,000 public charging stations across the country, which is a 40 percent increase from 2020. Although the Biden administration plans to install at least 500,000 publicly accessible charging stations by 2030, an S&P Global report states that there needs to be more than 700,000 stations by 2025 if electric vehicle growth reaches 7.8 million. S&P Global analysts believe the U.S. could reach 7.8 million EVs by 2025.56
  • Charging could create carbon pollution: Depending on how EV chargers are powered, charging your vehicle can create additional carbon pollution. Charging stations are powered by their associated power grids, and those power grids could rely on oil, coal, and natural gas. According to the EPA, however, the carbon footprint of EVs (including charging stations) results in roughly half as much greenhouse gas emissions as the average gas-powered vehicle.
  • Environmental impact of extracting raw materials: Some critics have pointed out that the manufacturing process of electric batteries is actually harmful to the environment. Although the extraction of raw materials (lithium and cobalt) is linked to environmental harm, gas-powered vehicles would still create more greenhouse emissions than electric vehicles overall.7
  • Public response to EV shift: As we pointed out above, another challenge will be the public’s willingness to adopt eco-friendly driving habits into their everyday lives. Although EV sales have tripled in the past three years, most polls show that 40 to 50 percent of Americans are currently unwilling or unlikely to go electric for the time being.
Status on owning an electric vehicle Percentage of respondents
Currently owns an EV 4%
Seriously considering an EV 12%
Might consider an EV in the future 43%
Would not buy an EV 41%8

Why are most Americans hesitant about owning EVs? Deloitte asked nearly 2,000 Americans what concerns they have about electric cars. Here are the top five most selected answers:

  • Cost/price premium: 52 percent
  • Driving range: 48 percent
  • Time required to charge: 47 percent
  • Lack of public chargers: 46 percent
  • Lack of home chargers: 40 percent9


Want to learn more about what owning an electric vehicle means for your insurance plan? Check out our 2023 guide on electric vehicle insurance.


The EPA’s most aggressive and ambitious plan could lead to a huge boost in EV manufacturing and a decrease in carbon emissions over the next few decades. The biggest hurdles the EPA is facing include coordinating with automakers, addressing public concern toward EVs, and mitigating the negative impact the plan would have on oil and gas. The EPA will take comments and feedback from industry, community, and labor leaders in the coming months before finalizing the proposal.


  1. Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Strongest-Ever Pollution Standards for Cars and Trucks to Accelerate Transition to a Clean-Transportation Future. Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, Apr 12).

  2. Hybrid-Electric, Plug-in Hybrid-Electric and Electric Vehicle Sales. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2018).

  3. Zero emission vehicles: first ‘Fit for 55′ deal will end the sale of new CO2 emitting cars in Europe by 2035. European Commission. (2022, Oct 28).

  4. Oil. BloombergNEF.(2022).

  5. FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Standards and Major Progress for a Made-in-America National Network of Electric Vehicle Chargers. The White House. (2023, Feb 15).

  6. EV Chargers: How many do we need? S&P Global. (2023, Jan 9).

  7. How Green Are Electric Vehicles? The New York Times. (2021, Nov 9).

  8. Most Americans Are Not Completely Sold on Electric Vehicles. Gallup. (2023, Apr 12).

  9. 2023 Global Automotive Consumer Study. Deloitte. (2023, Jan).