RICHMOND — Democrats acknowledge that Virginia’s electric vehicle mandate is flawed and needs work. Today, they voted in unison to kill any effort to fix it for another year.
Democratic members of a House Labor and Commerce Committee subpanel tabled House Bill 3 from Del. Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, and House Bill 693 from Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan.
The two bills were the last remaining legislative vehicles that would have moved to repeal or at least delay the Commonwealth’s electric vehicle mandate.
Democrats voted in 2021 to tie Virginia to California’s emission standards, requiring that all new cars in Virginia be electric by 2035. The mandate begins in 2026 with a requirement that 35 percent of all new cars be EVs.
“Democrats have once again decided to ignore not only their constituents, but also the reality facing their ‘aspirational’ legislation. Members and witnesses presented evidence and testimony that make it clear what a disaster this law is for Virginians, and Democrats remain unmoved,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.
HB 3 would have repealed the mandate completely, while HB 693 would have postponed the standard until the car market – and consumer preferences – catch up. Both were killed in party-line votes.
Evidence that EVs aren’t ready for prime time is all around. General Motors recently announced they will delay plans to expand EV production in Michigan. The company is also discontinuing the lower priced Chevy Bolt – their best selling EV in 2023.
Only 9 percent of new car sales in Virginia last year were EVs. To hit that target, growth would need to be “exponential” according to dealers.
“We would need to have some significant movement on a more exponential trajectory to hit that number,” said Liza Borches, CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, which operates five dealerships in greater Richmond.
Ford recently announced major cuts to their EV production, and a delay or cut of $12 billion of investment in EV programs. The company halved their production of the electric Ford F-150.
Virginia’s charging infrastructure is not only inadequate for the EVs already on the road, it’s biased toward higher income communities.
According to the US Department of Energy, Virginia has just over 1,400 charging stations, public and private, slower and faster.
The majority are in Northern Virginia. About 900 of the 1,433 stations – almost two-thirds – are in census tracts above the median household income.
None of those facts moved House Democrats, though, as they killed both bills after brief discussion.
“People just don’t want these cars,” Gilbert said. “It’s time to repeal this ‘aspirational’ bill and let reality into the room.”