My take: A common-sense zero emissions plan

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DNREC and Secretary Shawn Garvin threaded the needle and developed a sensible zero-emissions vehicle plan.

The revised rules put plug-in hybrid vehicles on equal footing with battery-electrics (EVs) and abandon the controversial California 2035 mandate that required 80% of all vehicles sold in 2035 to be battery-electrics, with the remainder made up of plug-ins. 

Critics cited current challenges such as a lack of charging stations, mineral shortages and fears of putting strain on the grid while failing to mention the 20% plug-in provision. A few on the fringe went so far as to claim that internal combustion engine vehicles would be banned. The criticism – led by Republican legislators and climate change skeptics at the Caesar Rodney Institute – had an impact, with indications that a sizeable percentage of Delawareans opposed the 2035 rules.

My take was that the marketplace and the worldwide shift in capital spending toward EVs and hybrids would lower emissions, minus the drama and misinformation over Delaware signing on to the 2035 mandate.

Under the tweaked rules, starting with the model year 2027, 43% of new cars and trucks sent to Delaware for sale will be plug-in hybrids, fuel cells-powered, or EVs. The percentage will increase to 82% in 2032. The regulations will expire in model year 2033. By then, the auto industry should be able to churn out models that further reduce emissions without a mandate.

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We already know that demand for plug-in hybrids in Delaware is strong with few in stock at last check – one reason why backers pushed for the 2035 mandate. Even if all-electrics fail to meet expectations in battery range and cost, plug-ins with smaller and cleaner internal combustion engines will fill the gap.

Meanwhile, prices of EVS continue to fall, with some dealers struggling to sell models with limited battery ranges.

So far, the reaction to the revised standards has been muted, with critics saying little. I would guess we will see some blowback on the 2027 standards.

As noted in the story below the American Lung Association preferred the California standard, while praising DNREC’s action.

While the new rules won’t please everyone, Garvin deserves credit for crafting a sensible path forward. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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