SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is poised to set a 2035 deadline for all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state to run on electricity or hydrogen, an ambitious move that will reshape the U.S. auto market. accelerating the transition. to more climate-controlled cars.
California’s Air Resources Board will vote Thursday on a policy that lays out the nation’s most aggressive road map for phasing out gas-powered vehicles. However, this does not eliminate such vehicles.
People can continue to drive gas-powered cars and buy used cars after 2035. The plan also calls for hybrids that run on batteries and gas to account for one-fifth of sales after 2035.
But it sets the course for the eventual end of the era of filling up at the local gas station. Switching from gas cars to electric cars will dramatically reduce emissions and air pollutants. The transition could be painful in parts of the state still dominated by oil; California remains the seventh largest oil-producing state, although its production is falling as the state advances its climate goals.
“The climate crisis can be solved if we focus on the big, bold steps needed to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. He announced the 2035 goal two years ago, and since then regulators have spent time working out the details of what Newsom called “the actions we need to take if we’re serious about leaving this planet a better place for future generations.”
There are practical hurdles to overcome to achieve the goal, in particular, having enough reliable power stations and charging stations. California now has about 80,000 stations in public spaces, far short of the 250,000 it wants to have by 2025. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents many of the major car manufacturers, noted the lack of infrastructure, access to materials needed to produce batteries and the supply chain. issues among the problems of meeting the deadlines of the state.
“These are complex, intertwined and global issues that are beyond the control of either the (California Air Resources Board) or the auto industry,” said John Bozella, the group’s president.
Although the state accounts for 10% of the U.S. auto market, it is home to 43% of the nation’s 2.6 million registered plug-in vehicles, according to the Air board.
California climate officials say the state’s new policy will be the most ambitious in the world because it sets clear benchmarks for increasing sales of electric vehicles over the next dozen years. By 2026, for example, one-third of new cars sold should be electric. About 16% of cars sold in California in the first three months of this year were electric.
The European Parliament supported the plan in June effectively ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in the bloc’s 27 countries by 2035, while Canada made the sale of zero-emission cars mandatory by the same year. The Chinese province of Hainan announced this this week it will do the same by 2030.
In the US, Massachusetts, Washington and New York are among the states that have set goals to transform their auto markets or have already committed to following California’s new rules.
California has historically been allowed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to set its own tailpipe emissions regulations for vehicles, and 17 other states follow some or all of its policies.
The new electric car rules will also need federal approval, which is seen as likely with President Joe Biden in the White House. A future Republican president, however, could challenge California’s authority to set its own auto standards, as the Trump administration did.
Indeed, the new commitment comes as California seeks to maintain a reliable electricity supply while moving away from gas-fired power plants in favor of solar, wind and other cleaner energy sources. Earlier this year, top energy officials warned that electricity could run out in August 2020.
This year it has not yet happened. But Newsom insists on it keep the last state-owned nuclear power plant open over the planned closer to 2025, and the state can turn to diesel generators or natural gas plants as a backup when the network is stressed.
Adding more car chargers will increase demand on the energy grid.
Providing access to charging stations is also key to increasing sales of electric vehicles. An infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year provides $5 billion for states to build levies every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along interstate highways. Newsom, meanwhile, has pledged to spend billions to boost sales of zero-emissions cars, including by adding chargers in low-income neighborhoods.
Driving an electric vehicle long distances today, even in California, requires careful planning of where to stop and charge, said Mary Nichols, former chair of the California Air Resources Board. Money from the state and federal government will go toward developing that infrastructure and making electric vehicles a more convenient option, she said.
“It’s going to be a transformational process, and the car sales mandate is just one part of it,” she said.
Although hydrogen is a fuel option under the new rules, fuel cell vehicles have accounted for less than 1% of vehicle sales in recent years.
Both the state and the government have thousands of dollars in rebates to offset the cost of purchasing electric vehicles, and regulations incentivize automakers to make used electric vehicles affordable for low- and moderate-income people. Over the past 12 years, California has provided more than $1 billion in rebates on the sale of 478,000 electric, plug-in and hybrid vehicles, according to the Air Board.