The future of driving is electric. Sort of.

By Mike Lee, Jean Chemnick | 03/21/2024 07:12 AM EDT

EPA’s final car rule will result in far fewer battery-powered electric vehicles than what the agency envisioned last year.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks as President Joe Biden stands in the background.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced a scaled-back climate rule for cars Wednesday. Andrew Harnik/AP

The Biden administration’s plan to electrify the car industry will get a little help from gasoline engines.

EPA’s original proposal to control greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles estimated that 67 percent of new passenger car sales would need to be electric in eight years.

The final version released Wednesday still leans on fully electric vehicles, but it makes room for plug-in hybrids and other types of cars that run on gas. EPA estimates that 56 percent of cars and light trucks will be fully electric by 2032 and 13 percent will be plug-in hybrids — which use a combination of batteries and gas. Other scenarios outlined by the agency show as few as 35 percent of sales being fully electric cars, along with 36 percent being plug-in hybrids. (The remainder would be internal combustion vehicles or hybrids without a plug-in option).


Carmakers and EPA Administrator Michael Regan hailed the change as a practical move that will lead to drastic cuts in climate-warming pollution, while giving the industry the flexibility it needs to adapt. And they say it would protect the rule against political and legal challenges, which have already been set in motion.