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Biden’s EV mandate likely to severely limit how many conventional vehicles automakers can produce

Ford will need to build two fully electric F150s for every gas-powered F150. By 2032, the company will need to build four electric F150s for every gas-powered F150.

Published: March 30, 2024 11:19pm

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its final tailpipe emissions standards, which some have called an electric vehicle mandate.

“Make no mistake: This is a coerced phase-out of gas-powered cars,” the Wall Steet Journal editorial board recently opined on the final rules.

The 1,181-page rule doesn’t require auto manufacturers to produce any electric vehicles, and the EPA insists the rule is not an EV mandate.

“The standards continue the technology-neutral and performance-based design of previous EPA standards for cars, pickups, and vans,” the agency states in a March 20 press release.

The rule sets limits on the total fleet emissions allowed from the companies’ vehicles, but the only way to meet the standards is for a manufacturer to, over time, appears be to make a large and growing portion of their vehicle lines electric.

With a mixture of hybrids, which combine aspects of batteries and gas-powered motors, the portion can be lowered, but automakers who continue producing gas-powered vehicles will likely need to produce a lot of EVs to meet the EPA’s demands.

Beginning in 2027, the average carbon-dioxide emissions allowed across truck fleets will be 184 grams per mile. By 2032, that will decrease to 90 grams per mile for trucks.

The Ford F150 is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. today. The tailpipe emissions for its 2023 model line range from 352 grams per mile on the F150 Pickup 2WD HEV, to 741 grams per mile on the F150 Raptor R 4WD.                  

Matt Randolph, Sentinel Energy vice president and principal partner, explains in a Substack article that with an average of 430 grams per mile for the F150 line, in order to meet the 2027 EPA standards, Ford will need to build two fully electric F150s for every gas-powered F150. By 2032, the company will need to build four electric F150s for every gas-powered F150.

In 2023, Ford sold 750,789 gas-powered Ford F150s. For Ford to sell just half of the gas-powered F150s that it sold in 2023, Randolph writes, the company will need to produce 750,789 F150 Lightnings, the electric version of the truck, in 2027.

Ford had planned to produce 3,200 Lightnings per week, until this past December, when the U.S. automaker scaled that back to 1,600 per week. Should the company stick to that schedule in 2027, it will be permitted to sell only 166,400 of the popular gas-powered F150s.

By 2032, when the limits fall to just 90 grams per mile, the company will be able to sell only 41,600 conventional F150s, should it produce 166,400 Lightnings. In 2023, the company sold 24,000 Lightnings, but it had aimed to sell 150,000.

Energy expert Robert Bryce calculated, based on data from the company’s earnings report, that Ford lost $64,731 for every electric vehicle it sold. The company pulled off a $4.3 billion full-year net income last year only because its conventional vehicle sales produced so much profit that it made up for the losses on the company’s EV lines.

Should the EPA rule remain in place, the company will lose that revenue stream to support the losses on its EV lines.

It’s hard to say that the electric F150’s appeal to consumers will start to meet the company’s expectations anytime soon.

Compared to the hauling capability of its gas-powered counterpart, the vehicle falls woefully short, according to those who have driven the vehicle. Automotive writer Aaron Turpen wrote in a review of the Lightning that when towing full loads, the vehicle’s range will drop down to as little as 100 miles, less in cold weather.

Writing in MotorTrend, Christian Seabaugh recounted his experience hauling sand and rocks with a Lightning.

The gas-powered F150 versions have towing capacities ranging from 8,200 pounds to as much as 14,000 pounds.

Seabaugh was looking to haul about 4,800 pounds of gravel and sand for a patio-paving project at his home. With three trips, Seabaugh was able to haul all the sand and gravel back to his house, but he had to exceed the towing capacity on the vehicle by a couple hundred pounds.

Surveys show that most F150 owners do little to no hauling, so it’s hard to say how much that limitation will impact consumers buying personal vehicles. Companies looking for work vehicles for their fleets won’t likely be as comfortable with work crews having to make multiple trips in an electric truck that could be done with a single trip in a gas-powered truck.

For consumers, the main concerns about EVs are lack of charging stations, cost of repairs, and range anxiety, which is the fear of running out of charge before reaching a charging location.

The chances that Ford will sell enough Lightnings in 2027 that the EPA will grant the company permission to build enough of its popular gas-powered F150s to meet demand were further dimmed this past week.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Ford is cutting the hourly workforce at the plant in Dearborn, Michigan, where it produces the Lightnings. A year prior, the company had announced it was ramping up production, but as the pace of sales slowed, the Freep reports, the company has scaled back production.

In just three years, scaling back production of EVs will require automakers to do the same for their gas-powered lines.

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