The Biden administration on Wednesday finalised one of the most significant pieces of its ambitious climate agenda: the strongest new tailpipe rules for passenger cars and trucks that will decisively push the US auto market toward EVs and hybrids.

But in a concession to automakers and labor unions, the rules will be phased in more slowly than originally proposed and will give automakers more choices for how to comply.

Nearly a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a fast ramp-up into EVs and hybrids — a rule that would have ensured two-thirds of all vehicles sold were electric by the end of this decade. The EPA pumped the brakes on that plan Wednesday.

Instead of pushing automakers to sell more EVs to meet stringent pollution targets, the administration is allowing plug-in hybrids — vehicles that combine gas engines and EV-like batteries — to play a much bigger role in the electric transition.

EVs and Hybrids

In 2023, EVs made up just 7.6% of new car sales, according to Kelley Blue Book. The new rule is targeting 35% to 56% for EVs in 2032, and 13% to 36% for plug-in hybrids.

Transportation has an outsized climate impact, making up nearly a third of all US climate pollution, so even small steps can lead to significant change. Margo Oge, who previously headed the agency’s office of Transportation and Air Quality, called the new standard “the single most important climate regulation in the history of the country.”

Read more: CNN