Majority of voters favor gasoline-car phaseout. But all-electric goal faces tough opposition from oil companies
The latest proposal from the Obama administration to phase out the sale and production of diesel and other conventional vehicles by 2020 has been greeted with considerable enthusiasm by environmentalists, who say it would save trillions of dollars and provide a massive boost to public health.
But the administration’s plan for a wholesale transformation of America’s auto industry faces fierce opposition from the automobile sector’s trade group and the powerful auto lobby, which has vowed to fight it tooth and nail, threatening to turn national politics into a car-vs.-car issue and raise costs for consumers.
Critics say the plan, unveiled Thursday in San Francisco, would drive up the price of fuel and make it more expensive to operate a vehicle, particularly in emerging markets that could not afford to buy new diesel or gasoline cars. They argue that the plan would do little to address greenhouse-gas emissions and could worsen air pollution that could harm everyone from the elderly to pregnant women.
“We have made it clear that we will invest aggressively to transition away from oil and gas as they become less abundant, less cost effective and less clean,” Obama said Thursday. “With electric cars, fuel economy standards and strong regulations to make it affordable and available, we’ve shown the world that we are ready to take this crucial step toward cleaner, more efficient vehicles.”
The shift to all-electric vehicles is a critical part of Obama’s strategy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from fuel-burning vehicles during the next five to seven years, which was detailed in a landmark executive order signed in June by Obama.
The administration says it could save up to $100 billion per year by 2030 by transitioning to clean-energy vehicles. That would mean buying fewer gasoline- and diesel-powered cars, but still producing far more new vehicles. The shift would require reducing the number of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which include trucks, buses and rail passenger trains.
But a number of automakers argue that the plan would force them to eliminate thousands of jobs to comply with costly, industry-wide emissions requirements, which they say could make it