During a keynote address at the Texas Tribune Festival, Buttigieg contended that the Lone Star State could save money by buying electric cars to bypass prices at the pump. “Some of the best use cases for electric vehicles are in places like Texas,” Buttigieg said, “places where people spend more time in their vehicles, where you drive longer distances than in a dense coastal city and therefore spend more money on gas and therefore would save more money — provided you can afford an electric vehicle, which is why we’re fighting to make electric vehicles cheaper.”
The Biden administration has set the “ambitious target” of ensuring that electric vehicles constitute 50% of car sales in the United States by 2030, according to a fact sheet from the White House. President Joe Biden recently signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains $369 billion for climate initiatives — including $7,500 tax credits for new electric vehicles.
Buttigieg added on Thursday that the nation should invest more heavily in alternate modes of transportation. “Cars will always play an important role in our lives, but you should not have to bring two tons of metal with you everywhere you’re going,” he continued.
The White House has also established the goal of procuring only 100% zero-emission light-duty vehicles by 2027 and will extend the same standard to all vehicles in the federal fleet by 2035, according to another fact sheet from the White House.
Buttigieg recently nodded to a policy from the California Air Resources Board that will require 35% of new vehicles to produce zero emissions by 2026 — a standard that will progressively rise to 100% by 2035. The policy was unveiled days before grid officials requested that residents lower energy usage during peak hours of a heatwave, including by refraining from charging their electric vehicles, in the interest of averting power failure.
Buttigieg nevertheless argued that speed is necessary for an electric vehicle policy. “We’ve got to make sure that this happens quickly enough to help us beat climate change,” he said during an interview with Fox 11 Los Angeles. “We’ve got to make sure it happens affordably enough that’s it not just wealthy people, but low-income people who most need those gas savings if they can afford the EVs in the first place.”
Washington, Massachusetts, and Virginia will follow the California Air Resources Board policy in accordance with previously enacted law, although Republicans in the latter state are attempting to overturn the regulation.
Acknowledging the high cost of electric cars relative to gas vehicles, Buttigieg has claimed that rising fuel prices would lead more Americans to rely on alternatives. “The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” he said during a hearing for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The national average price of gasoline was $2.38 per gallon when Biden assumed office and increased to $3.53 per gallon by the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After surpassing $5.00 per gallon in early June, prices have somewhat subsided to $3.71 per gallon as of Sunday, according to data from AAA.