California could be moving one step closer to banning the sale of gas vehicles by 2035, with the state’s Air Resources Board (CARB) expected to vote in favor of such a plan Thursday.
Daniel Sperling, a member of the board, told CNN that he was “99.9% confident the measure would pass” on Thursday.
“This is monumental,” Sperling said. “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 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.”
If passed, the regulation would operate in phases, with the amount of gas-powered vehicles on the road decreasing over time. 35% 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.
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. Several major car manufacturers have already indicated that they are moving to increase their production of clean car vehicles.
“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.”
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.”
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.