When the 2011 deal between the Obama administration and the auto industry was reached — calling for doubling fleetwide average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year — it was clear that internal combustion engines alone would be incapable of meeting the goal.
Now that the executive branch has proposed freezing the standards to a more reachable level, there will be plenty of hand-wringing and wailing. But there would also be greater choice afforded American consumers.
Electric vehicles are needed to meet the existing 2025 target. If the rules are relaxed, consumers will have more freedom to choose among gasoline, electric and even diesel powertrains. It could be that the companies investing billions in a battery-powered future have been wrong.
Still, it will be a challenge to meet the target by 2025 even if fuel economy standards are relaxed. It will require a combination of petroleum engines and EVs powered by batteries or possibly fuel cells — even though it seems oil production will be plentiful for the indefinite future.
Choice is good. I wonder what would happen without governments backing certain technologies they presume to be in the national interest. In fact, it would be interesting to see how consumers feel about EVs without the tax credits to encourage their sale. If price hikes of several thousand dollars are coming, will consumers still buy EVs from General Motors and Tesla?
The battle among powertrain technologies will be fierce and there is plenty of confusion these days, especially as tariffs muddy the picture on price and availability.
But things will become clear over the next few months.
While some nations will continue to mandate zero emissions that can only be met with EVs, it appears there will be plenty of choice available to American consumers.