Don Hall: To achieve EV adoption, D.C. must do more

A Message from VADA President and CEO Don Hall

July 2023

One of the big discussions at VADA's 2023 Annual Convention was electric vehicles — excitement for them, yes, but questions around the requirements to make them, and the government’s demand for reduced emissions, a reality.

Not to mention the consumers’ seemingly growing hesitation to buy them, given cost and charging concerns.

Some of these "potholes,” as Cox Automotive executive Brian Finkelmeyer described to convention attendees, present significant headwinds to mass EV adoption. You can read more of Brian’s comments in this article on our website (which, by the way, recently underwent a homepage redesign to focus on current news and events).

Now, the National Automobile Dealers Association has made its position clear to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that more must be done to create an environment where EVs can thrive. Earlier this month, NADA wrote a letter to the EPA outlining why auto dealers collectively believe proposed regulations around “multi-pollutant vehicle standards” to be flawed.

NADA explained how mass market EV penetration will require a unified strategy that considers the vital importance of factors such as affordability, consumer incentives, charging infrastructure, utility capacity, resources for battery manufacturing, and model availability.

Manufacturers can’t snap their fingers and build reduced emissions vehicles, nor can dealers sell them at an affordable price, without far more considerations. And OEMs especially can’t hit the government’s mandate that new vehicles average 49 miles per gallon by 2026. “That would be like if you all asked me to get up this morning and run a four-minute mile,” Cox’s Finkelmeyer told our dealers. “I can assure you, that's not going to happen.”

EV adoption goes beyond emissions standards. As NADA notes, the EPA proposal:

  • Disregards critical demand-side marketplace factors
  • Is premised on overly aggressive assumptions regarding future EV market penetration
  • Operates to promote EVs to the exclusion of ICE, hybrid and other alternative-fuel vehicles

Dealers are all-in for EVs. If you put four wheels on our lot, we’ll get them off it as quickly as possible. We’re investing multiple billions into the infrastructure to support these new vehicles. But more must be done.

Mass adoption requires government policies that are technologically achievable. That maintain affordability. And that complement the efforts of the private sector in advancing the fleet turnover needed to achieve the targeted environmental benefits. And do it all within a timeframe that helps, not hurts, American new vehicle buyers.

Let’s hope our friends in Washington will listen.