Two new analyses from Bloomberg this week make clear just how bad President Donald Trump’s policies are for the domestic electric car market and U.S. workers.
In the first report, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) explains that Trump’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards for vehicles would eliminate any federal requirement for carmakers to build electric vehicles (EVs). BNEF also explains that the deal Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW struck with California last week to avoid the full rollback will not undo most of the damage.
In the second, BNEF concluded that the rapid price drops in the cost of batteries that have driven the energy storage and EV revolutions this decade will continue for the next decade.
In short, while Trump can slow adoption of high-efficiency EVs in the United States, other countries — the E.U. and especially China — will simply keep adopting them so quickly that he cannot stop the global EV revolution.
Trump’s pro-oil moves ensure only that U.S. companies and workers are far less likely to be the major beneficiaries of this massive job-creating revolution.
Since his election, Trump has been working overtime to pay back his Big Oil backers — who have been major donors both to his campaign and to the Republican Party. Not only has he been pushing expanded drilling for climate-destroying fossil fuels, but he has also embraced policies that would increase U.S. dependency on oil.
Trump’s biggest effort to date is his plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for new cars. That rollback would cost consumers nearly $100 billion dollars in missed fuel savings — a net cost to individual car buyers of $1,650 each (even after accounting for the higher vehicle cost) as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in its final January “Determination on the Appropriateness” of the standards.
Rolling back the standards would also boost U.S. oil consumption by a stunning 1.2 billion gallons over the lifetime of the model-year 2022–2025 cars. It would also increase U.S. carbon pollution by 540 billion tons over that time period. But the EPA didn’t look at the impact on cars built after 2025 that would also be subject to the weaker standards, so we don’t know the full scale of the negative impact of Trump’s efforts.
And while the car companies themselves asked for relief from the deal they had made with the Obama administration, the bad publicity surrounding the full Trump rollback led many to negotiate a deal with California that preserved some of the benefits.
California has long held a waiver giving it the ability to set its own, tougher, fuel efficiency standards. And since the state has such a huge car-centric economy, these tougher standards have forced car companies to meet the state’s standards. At the same time, over a dozen other states now use California’s standards.
According to BNEF, if California’s new standards were “adopted nationally, it would require around half the EV sales share to close the gap between automakers’ performance and their targets,” compared to Obama’s original standards.
But most states don’t use the California standards, so they would use Trump’s instead, which requires no EV sales. And that means the total impact of the California standards would be to restore far less than half the EV sales that the Obama standard required.
Trump’s policies are therefore doubly tragic. First, his lower standards mean much higher carbon pollution in this country. Second, the EV revolution is unstoppable globally. So, throttling back the national EV market merely leaves U.S. car companies and workers lagging behind in the most important vehicle revolution in a century.
According to BNEF, from 2010 through 2018 the average lithium-ion battery pack dropped a remarkable 85% in price — and they predict “a further halving of lithium-ion battery costs per kilowatt-hour by 2030, as demand takes off in two different markets – stationary storage and electric vehicles.”
Electric vehicle sales are now seriously eating into internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales — and that trend is projected to accelerate in the coming years.
No wonder countries like China are investing so heavily in EVs, and putting in place much stronger fuel efficiency standards and EV requirements.
But just as Trump looks backward in his efforts to promote the climate-destroying fuels of the twentieth century, he also looks backward to promote the inefficient, highly polluting internal combustion engine cars of the last century.
That’s why killing electric cars will serve only to kill U.S. jobs and the climate.