On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed yet another executive order, this one to do with what the White House in a fact-sheet describes as an "ambitious target" when it comes to making 50 percent of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles. This includes battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles.
It is being touted as part of President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda:
President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invest in the infrastructure, manufacturing, and incentives that we need to grow good-paying, union jobs at home, lead on electric vehicles around the world, and save American consumers money. Today, the President will announce a set of new actions aimed at advancing these goals and increasing the impact of his proposed Build Back Better investments – positioning America to drive the electric vehicle future forward, outcompete China, and tackle the climate crisis.
Similarly, the executive order noted that "It is the policy of my Administration to advance these objectives in order to improve our economy and public health, boost energy security, secure consumer savings, advance environmental justice, and address the climate crisis."
Today, I am following through with a campaign commitment to reverse the previous administration’s short-sighted rollback of vehicle emissions and efficiency standards.— President Biden (@POTUS) August 5, 2021
Biden also touted it as a campaign promise. The fact-sheet also read:
Consistent with the President’s Day One Executive Order, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will announce how they are addressing the previous administration’s harmful rollbacks of near-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards.
The White House also released a joint statement from Ford, GM, and Stellantis:
“Today, Ford, GM and Stellantis announce their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030 in order to move the nation closer to a zero-emissions future consistent with Paris climate goals. Our recent product, technology, and investment announcements highlight our collective commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles. This represents a dramatic shift from the U.S. market today that can be achieved only with the timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the Administration in the Build Back Better Plan, including purchase incentives, a comprehensive charging network of sufficient density to support the millions of vehicles these targets represent, investments in R&D, and incentives to expand the electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains in the United States. With the UAW at our side in transforming the workforce and partnering with us on this journey, we believe we can strengthen continued American leadership in clean transportation technology through electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration, Congress and state and local governments to enact policies that will enable these ambitious objectives.”
Further, the fact-sheet referenced competition with China:
Seeing this shift, countries are sprinting to lead. For example, China is increasingly cornering the global supply chain for electric vehicles and batteries with its fast-growing electric vehicle market. By setting clear targets for electric vehicle sale trajectories, these countries are becoming magnets for private investment into their manufacturing sectors – from parts and materials to final assembly.
And, as Josh Siegal reported for The Washington Examiner:
Those other policies will require cooperation by Congress as part of infrastructure legislation negotiations. To make his case, Biden warned about the lost opportunity cost of ceding the electric vehicle market to China.
The U.S. market share of electric vehicle sales is only one-third of China's, which has dedicated generous subsidies to spur purchases while dominating the global supply chain for the cars and their batteries.
“The question is whether we will lead or fall behind,” Biden said. “It’s whether we will build these vehicles or batteries in the United States or rely on other countries. Right now, China is leading the race. We are in competition with China.”
The Biden administration has a preoccupation with what it calls a "climate crisis." It is on this issue where it has chosen to engage with China. In April, climate czar John Kerry traveled there to meet his Chinese counterpart. While there, Kerry said he wanted to focus on climate change and that "It’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world," with "those other things" referring to the human rights abuses China is committing.