Aug. 5 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order setting a goal for half of all new vehicles made in the United States to be electric in some form by the end of the 2020s.
He signed the executive order after delivering a speech on investing in the electric car sector on the South Lawn of the White House where staffers had parked several electric vehicles. The order sets a 50% target for electrifying vehicles and emphasizes the importance of "made in America."
Biden said the new policy was key to strengthening the U.S. economy because electrification is the future of car manufacturing.
"It's electric, and there's no turning back," he said. "The question is whether we'll lead or fall behind in the race for the future."
The signing also follows through on his campaign promise "to reverse the previous administration's short-sighted rollback of vehicle emissions and fuel-efficiency standards," Biden said.
"It's about leveraging once-in a generation investments and a whole-of-government effort to lift up American auto workers and strengthen the American leadership in the world in a clean car technology...not just cars, but trucks and buses," Biden added. "That's why today I'm signing an executive order setting out a target of 50% of all passengers vehicles sold by 2030 will be electric."
Along with the 50% target for electrifying vehicles, the signed order also sets standards for car companies to gradually decrease emissions over the next five years.
After the signing, Biden took an electric Jeep Wrangler for a ride around the White House.
The effort is in line with goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which the United States rejoined this year under Biden.
"The executive order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice and tackle the climate crisis," the White House said in a statement.
"The global market is shifting to electric vehicles and tapping their potential to save families money, lower pollution and make the air we breathe cleaner."
Biden's administration said part of the effort includes new rule changes by the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department from those imposed by the government of former President Donald Trump, which it said adopted "harmful rollbacks of near-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards."
"Through these coordinated notices of proposed rulemaking, the two agencies are advancing smart fuel efficiency and emissions standards that would deliver around $140 billion in net benefits over the life of the program, save about 200 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce around 2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution," the White House said.
Political and automotive leaders support the effort."Our recent product, technology and investment announcements highlight our collective commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles," Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the "Big Three" U.S. automakers, said in a joint statement.
"Today, Ford, GM and Stellantis announce their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030."
In his remarks, United Auto Workers President Ray Curry warned that the United States is falling behind China and Europe in zero-emission vehicle production.
"Fortunately, President Biden recognizes the importance of this moment," Curry said in a statement. "[This plan] makes the bold investments in manufacturing, consumer incentives and infrastructure needed to ensure vehicles of the future are made in our country."
"We support the administration's goal of reaching an electric vehicle future and applaud President Biden's leadership on reducing emissions and investing in critical infrastructure to achieve these reductions," Ford added in a joint statement with BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and Honda.
"These new proposed rules are a critical step forward and will benefit our health, economy and planet," added Julie Ceqeira, executive director of the U.S. Climate Alliance.