Major American automakers eying SUVs over electric vehicles

By Chris McCahill

Transitioning to electric power has been a major focus of state and local agencies trying to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals. That involves rolling out more charging stations, bolstering the grid, and offering incentives for drivers to go electric; but consumers will also need plenty of cars to choose from. American-made options, however, are going to be limited.

General Motors and Ford are planning to produce around 320,000 electric vehicles in 2026, according to Reuters. That’s about ten times more than today, but only about five percent of their total production. Tesla produced 367,500 EVs just last year. That puts the two major automakers in line with some of the lowest global forecasts and well below what is needed to meet most clean energy goals.

Meanwhile, most of the vehicles in production will be larger, gas-powered SUVs, which will “most likely wipe out any gains in overall fuel efficiency or reduction in auto emissions that were targeted over the next six years,” experts told Reuters—building on the trend we’ve seen over the last decade. The federal government’s recent rollback of fuel efficiency targets from 55 mpg to 40 mpg could make this trend worse.

That means the success of clean energy goals and climate action plans will likely depend even more on overall VMT reductions, like our analysis for Hawaii’s Transcending Oil report showed. Achieving that will require investments in a wider range of transportation options, new pricing mechanisms, better land use planning, and, ultimately, a paradigm shift in how we think about the environmental impacts of transportation.

Chris McCahill is the Deputy Director at SSTI.