Biden Administration Takes Soft Approach to Hybrids and PHEVs

Revised Emissions Regulations Could Benefit Stellantis, However, It Is An Election Year...

In a recent shift in U.S. auto-emissions policy, President Joe Biden’s administration announced new regulations offering a more lenient approach toward gas-electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) vehicles. This change significantly departs from the administration’s earlier, more aggressive targets for electric vehicle (EV) adoption, reflecting industry pressures and political considerations.

The Rule Change – 

2024 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe. (Jeep).

Initially, the Biden administration proposed that two-thirds of new vehicles should be electric by 2032. However, the new rules have relaxed this target, allowing automakers to meet emissions standards through increased production of hybrids and PHEVs. According to Reuters, the average-per-mile carbon emissions for light-duty vehicles will be 14% higher between 2027 and 2032 than initially planned. This is largely due to the delay in implementing stricter emissions limits and the retention of an outdated emissions formula for PHEVs.

Industry Influence –

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Plus PHEV Blacktop eAWD in Hot Tamale. (Dodge).

The decision to soften the emissions rules followed significant lobbying from automakers. Many companies argued that a more restrictive formula for calculating emissions from PHEVs would stifle innovation and increase production costs. The EPA acknowledged these concerns, stating that the new rules are designed to be “achievable and affordable” while aiming for substantial pollution reductions.

Impact on Stellantis –

2024 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon X 4xe in High Velocity. (Jeep).

Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, and Ram, stands to benefit significantly from these relaxed regulations.

The automaker boasts four of the best-selling PHEVs in the U.S., including the Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited 4xe, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, and Dodge Hornet R/T PHEV. These vehicles offer a blend of traditional gasoline power with the option to drive short distances on electric power alone. However, the EPA’s outdated formula for calculating emissions assumes drivers charge these vehicles more frequently than they typically do, resulting in underestimated real-world pollution.

The 2024 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited 4xe delivers 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. Thanks to a 17 kWh battery pack, it has 21 miles of all-electric range. With this, the EPA’s formula gives the Wrangler 4xe a reduction of about 40% in estimated pollution compared to a gasoline-only version.

Political Context – 

2024 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Hybrid Road Tripper. (Chrysler).

The timing of these changes is noteworthy, as President Biden gears up for the 2024 election. The auto industry is a critical sector in Michigan, a key battleground state. The softened stance on emissions may be seen as an effort to balance environmental goals with economic and political realities, especially given the industry’s significant role in the state’s economy.

Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s opponent, has criticized EVs as job-killers, adding to the political pressure. The EPA’s revised rules offer a more flexible compliance pathway, potentially helping Biden secure support from environmental advocates and the auto industry.

While the new rules provide substantial pollution reductions compared to the standards they replace, the real challenge will be to implement these stricter standards in the future. History shows that automakers have successfully lobbied to delay or weaken regulations, as seen during the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.

2025 Ram 1500 Ramcharger Limited Crew Cab 4×4. (Ram).

The EPA projects that the final rule will achieve 94% of the carbon-emission reductions predicted in its original proposal when projected through 2055. However, the actual impact will depend on the enforcement and continuity of these regulations across future administrations.

While the revision may result in slower progress toward reducing vehicle emissions, it provides a more feasible path for automakers and reflects the complex interplay of factors influencing policy decisions. It also follows recent surveys, saying more Americans would opt for a hybrid than an EV.

As the automotive landscape continues to evolve, the focus will remain on developing cleaner, more efficient vehicles that meet a broad range of consumer needs.

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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Investors and business leaders are demanding a stable and realistic regulatory environment. Pandering to get elected will hurt more than it helps. Don't get me wrong, I support a move towards a more flexible approach to our energy and environmental challenges. This whole top down net-zero scam, and all electric panacea dooms us all to failure.

No matter who gets elected, the US will need to seriously upgrade our electrical grid and generating capacity. This can't be done by only using windmills, solar panels, rainbows, and unicorns.

Conservation will play a major part in this also. Hybrid vehicles should have a greater role in this. They are a real and practical solution, yet only one piece of a complex puzzle. What works against true resource conservation are the electric vehicle energy hogs like the Jeep Wagoneer S and the Dodge Charger Daytona. Should we have to pay higher taxes and utility bills, so a wealthier person can have a huge battery pack and high charging speed ?

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