WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order on Thursday setting a target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles and propose new vehicle emissions rules to cut pollution through 2026, the White House said.
Biden's goal, which is not legally binding, won the support of major U.S. and foreign automakers who warned it would require billions of dollars in government funding.
General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler-parent Stellantis confirmed in a joint statement that they aspire "to achieve sales of 40-50 per cent of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles... by 2030."
Biden's 50 per cent goal and the automakers' 40-50 per cent aspiration includes battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles that also have a gasoline-engine.
Biden has repeatedly resisted calls from many Democrats to set a binding requirement for EV adoption or to follow California and some countries in setting 2035 as a date to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered light duty vehicles in the face of opposition by the UAW.
"We have got to act," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a CNBC interview. "This goal of getting half of our new vehicles to be electric within the decade is going to be urgently needed for us to meet the imperative of climate in our time."
UAW President Ray Curry noted the EV goal but said "the UAW focus is not on hard deadlines or percentages, but on preserving the wages and benefits that have been the heart and soul of the American middle class."
"We must be ambitious not just about retaining good union jobs, but growing them, and about expanding U.S. manufacturing of electric vehicles, from parts to assembly," the UAW statement said. "It is incumbent that these future jobs will be good-paying American union scale wage and benefit jobs that protect salaries and our critical health and safety standards."
Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, whose company makes only electric vehicles, tweeted early on Thursday: "Seems odd that Tesla wasn’t invited."
Buttigieg, asked about Tesla on CNBC, had no direct comment but said the move to EVs was focused on the entire market.