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Electric-vehicle stakeholders advocate for 100% EV adoption by 2030

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

A coalition of businesses — including big automotive and technology names such as Tesla Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. — on Tuesday announced the launch of an organization that will advocate for national policies aimed at achieving 100% adoption of electric vehicles by 2030.

The Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), a nonpartisan group based in Washington, D.C., is calling for an acceleration of the shift to electric vehicles, a transition the U.S. auto industry is in the early stages of making. Currently, sales of fully-electric vehicles make up less than 2% of new-vehicle sales in the U.S., and gas-powered trucks and SUVs continue to dominate the U.S. auto market.

But industry experts have said adoption of electric vehicles is likely to accelerate in the coming years as production volumes rise, prices fall, and momentum coalesces around efforts to combat climate change. Automakers globally are placing big bets on electrification: Detroit's automakers alone have committed to investing tens of billions of dollars on electric vehicle development within the next few years.

An unsold 2020 Model 3 sedan sits at a Tesla dealership late Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Littleton, Colo.

In a statement and on its website, ZETA touts the benefits of electrification, including the potential for new jobs, a cleaner environment, cost savings and reduced maintenance time for vehicle owners, healthier communities due to reduced emissions, and the impressive driving performance some EVs feature.

"For the first time in a generation, transportation is the leading emitter of U.S. carbon emissions. By embracing EVs, federal policymakers can help drive innovation, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and improve air quality and public health," Joe Britton, ZETA executive director, said in a statement. 

"The next decade," he added, "will be critical in implementing federal policies that accelerate the transition to zero emissions vehicles and help address these problems head-on." Policies that promote growth of the clean vehicle sector, he said, can help the U.S. "decisively win the global race to develop a new clean transportation economy and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans right here at home."

Twenty-eight companies, mostly industry stakeholders, comprise the founding members of the coalition. They include electric automakers such as Tesla, Lordstown Motors Corp. and Rivian. Also among them are utilities providers such as Duke Energy Corp. and Edison International. Volta Industries Inc., which operates a charging network, is a member, as is the Copper Development Association, the market development, engineering and information services arm of the U.S. copper industry.

Traditional automakers such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., which are investing heavily in electrifying their lineups, are not among the founding members.

The coalition has outlined five policy goals it is calling for the U.S. to adopt, including offering consumer EV incentives, setting emission standards that send "the correct market signals to support and accelerate the transition to zero emission transportation," federal investments in charging infrastructure, adoption of federal policies that promote domestic production of EVs and related parts and materials, and federal leadership in areas such as research and development.

The effort also includes the launch of the ZETA Education Fund, whose focus will be on educational outreach to the public about the benefits of EV adoption.

The coalition's launch comes as the U.S. transitions to a presidential administration that is expected to be an ally to automakers on their EV goals, in contrast to President Donald Trump's administration. 

President-elect Joe Biden has promised to spend billions on new clean energy technology, to create as many as a million jobs tied to EV production, and to build out the required infrastructure to support EVs. His policy proposals include a procurement plan that would add EVs to government fleets, a $300 billion investment in research and development and emerging technology, installation of more than 500,000 charging stations nationwide, and re-upping a tax credit program to incentivize the purchase of EVs, among other measures. 

The proposals from Biden as well as ZETA overlap with policies the United Auto Workers has advocated. And the union's warned of the likely disruption the transition to EVs will bring to American autoworkers.

jgrzelewski@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @JGrzelewski