California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has voted in favor of banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035.
“This is monumental,” CARB board member Daniel Sperling told CNN Wednesday. “It’s important not just for California, but it’s important for the country and the world.”
The goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles was introduced as an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020. The plan, known as the CARB Advanced Clean Cars II rule, requires all new vehicles sold after 2035 to be zero-emission.
“Emissions from motor vehicle engines hurt public health, welfare, the environment, and the climate in multiple interrelated ways,” the staff report on the Advanced Clean Cars II rule says. “These emission reductions will help stabilize the climate and reduce the risk of severe drought and wildfire and its consequent fine particulate matter pollution.”
After the vote Thursday, the CARB board tweeted a commitment to increase Californians’ access to zero-emissions vehicles.
In adopting the trailblazing Advanced #CleanCars II rule, the Board reiterated its commitment to ensuring increased access to #ZEVs for all Californians, including low-income consumers & those in communities with greater economic & environmental burdens. #EnvironmentalJustice
— CARB (@AirResources) August 25, 2022
The regulation will operate in phases, with the amount of gas-powered vehicles on the road decreasing over time. Thirty five percent of new passenger vehicles sold would need to be powered by batteries or hydrogen in 2026, 51% by 2028, 68% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. In addition to these targets for regular passenger cars, the plan outlines a goal to have zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.
Under the plan, Californians who already own gasoline cars will be allowed to keep using them. Drivers can also continue to purchase and sell pre-owned gas-powered vehicles. State officials hope incentives like the federal tax credit recently approved as part of the Inflation Reduction Act — and the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project — will encourage consumers to go electric.
Currently, California’s transportation sector is responsible for about 50% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, vehicles powered by gas or diesel are the state’s biggest source of greenhouse gasses, smog and harmful particles. The new plan promises to cut down these emissions.
In addition to increasing the sales of zero-emission vehicles, the proposal issues more stringent standards on gas-powered cars and trucks.
According to numbers from CARB, California has the largest zero-emission vehicle market in the country. CARB says 16% of all cars sold in the state are zero-emission vehicles or plug-in hybrids.
“The industry has rapidly responded to evolving market pressures, consumer demands, and regulatory requirements in California, across the United States, and around the globe,” according to a CARB staff report. “Today, every manufacturer has a public commitment to significant if not full electrification in the next 20 years.”
Several major car manufacturers have already indicated that they are moving to increase their production of clean car vehicles, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.
“Automakers are making massive investments in electrification — including manufacturing facilities and partnerships to produce vehicles, batteries and components inside the United States,” a statement from John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. “This is a commitment that is producing game-changing EVs and transforming transportation.”
In a statement, Ford said it supports California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rule, and will join the state in working towards zero-emission transportation.
“We’re committed to building a zero-emissions transportation future that includes everyone, backed by our own investments of more than $50 billion by 2026 in EVs and batteries,” Bob Holycross, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Ford said. “The CARB Advanced Clean Cars II rule is a landmark standard that will define clean transportation and set an example for the United States.”
Another goal of California’s plan is to lower the cost of electric cars and make them more affordable. According to the CARB staff report, 40% of the state’s drivers have already indicated that they would get an electric car as their “next vehicle.”
CARB also estimates that the cost of electric cars for the consumer will drop as more zero-emission vehicles become available.
“As the cost of batteries continues to drop, the price of a battery-electric vehicle will eventually become the same as a combustion engine vehicle,” the board stated on its site. “Consumer Reports recently issued a study showing that battery electric vehicles can already save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle compared to conventional cars – and save up to $4,700 in fuel costs in just the first seven years.”
While supportive of the movement towards zero-emission vehicles, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation is concerned that the goal of the plan is too ambitious to achieve, because of factors like inflation, labor shortages and charger availability.
“Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly linked to external factors like inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage,” Bozzella said. “These are complex, intertwined and global issues well beyond the control of either CARB or the auto industry.”
Others, like the California Alliance for Jobs and the Fix Our Roads Coalition, are worried that the decrease in funding from gas taxes will lead to the deterioration of state roads and infrastructure over time.
“Losing tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure funding will decimate the quality of our roads and bridges, jeopardize safety, decrease mobility, cripple public transit, and result in more traffic congestion,” said Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, in a statement.
Quigley also believes jobs will be lost as a result of the Advanced Clean Cars II rule.
“Reductions in funding of that magnitude will destroy hundreds of thousands of middle-class construction careers,” Quigley said. “We need California’s leaders to come up with solutions to replace this funding now rather than waiting until it’s too late.”