More than 40 Connecticut auto dealerships were among thousands across the nation that sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging his administration to “tap the brakes on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate.”
Several of the auto dealerships included Audi Fairfield, Garavel Subaru, Hartford Toyota, Hoffman Nissan, Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich, Kia of East Hartford, Middletown Toyota, New Country Mini, Papa’s Dodge and Valenti Chevrolet.
The coalition took issue with the Biden administration’s urgency to implement the tailpipe emissions regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this year to increase EV sales. In April, the White House projected that with the regulation a “staggering 67% of new sedan, crossover, SUV and light truck purchases could be electric by 2032,” according to Fox News.
However, the coalition suggests that “demand today is not keeping up” for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), as the cars are “stacking up on our lots.”
“While the goals of the regulations are admirable, they require consumer acceptance to become a reality,” the coalition letter states. “With each passing day, it becomes more apparent that this attempted electric vehicle mandate is unrealistic based on current and forecasted customer demand.”
The coalition listed consumers’ concerns with EVs, such as the vehicles “being unaffordable,” that “many do not have garages for home charging or easy access to public charging stations,” along with driving ranges and the impact of weather on the batteries. They asked the Biden administration to not only wait for technological and infrastructure improvements, but also to “allow time for the American consumer to get comfortable with the technology and make the choice to buy an electric vehicle.”
Connecticut recently had to hit the brakes with its own EV mandates. On Nov. 27, Gov. Ned Lamont withdrew two proposed regulations from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) that would have required all new vehicles — cars and trucks — sold in the state to be electric or zero-emission by 2035. According to Connecticut Inside Investigator (CII), the regulations first needed to “clear” the Legislative Regulatory Review Committee (LRRC); however, a “committee vote against the regulation could have potentially killed it permanently and Lamont withdrew the regulation change upon learning it likely wouldn’t pass.”
The EV mandates also met heavy criticism from the public, despite DEEP suggesting otherwise. In Yankee Institute’s research, of the 3,898 unique individuals expressing an opinion on the car regulation, 75% were opposed; while 70.9% voiced opposition to the truck regulation.
However, Connecticut is in a conundrum: in 2004, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the regulation to align with California’s emissions standards, instead of the federal government. As noted by CII: “following California’s announcement in 2022 that it would begin phasing out the sale of new gasoline cars, Connecticut was statutorily obligated to follow suit.”
To keep pace with California’s standards, Gov. Lamont and other state leaders indicated DEEP’s mandates will be presented before the General Assembly in the upcoming 2024 session. The governor noted in his Nov. 27 press conference that the state’s EV sales have “tripled” in only a few years and “we have brought down the price by over one-third.”
In January 2020, the total active EV registrations in the state was 11,677. As of July 2023, that number has jumped to 36,269, with Greenwich (2,173), Stamford (1,763), Westport (1,447), Fairfield (1,285) and West Hartford (1,109) leading the way. Meanwhile, according to F&I Tools — an automotive resource for consumers and professionals — the total number of cars sold in Connecticut last year was 135,724; however, the findings do not distinguish EVs versus gas-powered cars. Nevertheless, one can insinuate by the registrations versus cars sold that while EVs are gaining traction, gas-powered cars are still desirable to consumers.
Therefore, the forced urgency by federal and state governments to mandate EVs on consumers may be unnecessary if the current trends continue. Ultimately, the state government should heed the coalition’s letter too: “allow time” for adjustments — and do not eliminate choice from the marketplace.