California unveils proposed measure to ban new petrol cars

California’s clean air regulators today unveiled a far-reaching proposal that would require an increase in zero-emission vehicle sales, culminating in a ban on new gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

Rules forcing Californians to end their dependence on conventional cars are a critical component of California’s goals to tackle climate change and poor air quality.

If adopted by the California Air Resources Board this summer, the regulations would be a world first and could pave the way for national standards. At least 15 other states have pledged to follow California’s lead on auto standards for previous clean car rules, and the federal government usually follows them.

In implementation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020 Executive Order of the Board of Directors to end the sale of gas-powered cars in California by 2035, the new proposal drives the public regulatory process. Public comments will be collected for 45 days, then the hearing will take place on June 9 and the Board is expected to vote in August.

Automakers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the draft rules. But several major manufacturers, including General Motors, have already announced goals to ramp up clean car models in a similar time frame.

“This is a very important inflection point. This rule finally puts us on the path to 100% zero-emission vehicles,” said Daniel Sperling, a member of the Air Resources Council and founding director of the University of California, Davis Institute for Transportation Studies.

Vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel fuel are the state’s largest sources of greenhouse gases, smog and hazardous particles. Under today’s proposed rule, about 384 million metric tons less greenhouse gases would be emitted between 2026 and 2040, according to Air Council employees — more than the total amount the country emitted in 2019 across its economy.

Under the proposed new mandate, 35% of new cars, SUVs and vans sold in the state would have to be zero-emissions starting in 2026, increasing to 68% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. Of those, 20% could To be emissions-free. Plug-in hybrids.

The rule doesn’t apply to used car sales, and it won’t do anything to force the millions of current gasoline-powered cars off the roads. Only about 2% of cars on California roads were zero-emissions in 2020.

California has already enacted standards that will require nearly 8% of new cars sold in the state to be emission-free in 2025, according to Air Council employees. That goal has already been exceeded: About 12% of new car sales in California in 2021 were clean cars, according to state data. But the pace will have to triple in just five years to reach the new target.

One of the biggest drawbacks may be the lack of charging stations for electric cars. Nearly 1.2 million chargers will be needed for the 8 million projected zero-emission vehicles in California by 2030, according to a state report. Right now, there are only about 70,000 left with another 123,000 on the way, which is much less.

Another obstacle is the cost of vehicles. “The cost to manufacturers will be high per vehicle in the early years, but will drop significantly over time by 2035,” the Air Panel Task Force report says.

The economic benefits of the mandate are expected to outstrip costs: the costs could be $289 billion over the life of the base while the economic benefits could be at least $338 billion — a net benefit of $48 billion, according to Aviation Council staff.

Electric cars now cost more to buy, but lower prices plus savings on gas and maintenance will increase, saving consumers an estimated $3,200 over ten years for a 2026 car and $7,500 for a 2035 car, the air panel calculates.

In an effort to address consumer reluctance, manufacturers will be required to meet minimum performance, durability and warranty requirements for zero-emission vehicles. The cars must be able to drive at least 150 miles on a single charge, above the current mandate of 50 miles, and the batteries will need to last longer and carry the manufacturer’s warranty.

The goal is to ensure that new and used zero-emissions vehicles “can serve as complete replacement vehicles for conventional vehicles in every California home,” the Air Council says.

Environmental advocates have raised concerns about previous drafts, saying they have increased too slowly, allowing millions of fossil-fueled cars to remain on the roads since driving the average car for 12 years.

Starting with a 35% sales requirement is “a marked improvement,” said Don Anier, researcher and deputy director of the Clean Transportation Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, he said, “It’s kind of minimal. So we really see that as a floor, not a ceiling, to begin with.”

Car manufacturers may achieve a small portion of sales targets through 2031 with credits aimed at helping low-income residents who are disproportionately affected by pollution. For example, they can earn credits for selling newer, zero-emissions cars that cost less than $20,000 or make sure the cars are offered for resale in the state.

Last year, Newsom approved a $3.9 zero-emissions vehicle budget that included about $1.2 billion to promote rebates and other incentives for clean cars, particularly for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Another $300 million will be allocated to building charging and refueling infrastructure. This year Newsom proposed another $10 billion zero-emissions financing package in its January budget outline.

The state auditor cautioned the Air Resources Board, however, that it “has not generally identified the effects of its incentive programs on consumer behavior and, therefore, has overstated the (greenhouse gas) emissions that incentive programs bring.”

While battery-powered cars do not emit any pollutants, the generation of energy they run does. However, air quality regulators say emissions from electricity generation are much lower than emissions from vehicles. Much of California’s electricity comes from natural gas, solar, wind, and hydropower.

Other countries are on similar paths toward phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles, but no country or nation has adopted a rule banning them. However, the European Union is considering a raft of climate change laws that would, in effect, ban fossil-fueled cars by demanding that all CO2 emissions be reduced by 100% by 2035.