The state’s new auto sales regulation was written by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and introduced to the public via a news conference Wednesday. It will require that all new passenger vehicles reach a zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2035, effectively requiring California drivers to opt for electric cars (or buy a gas vehicle out of state). Legislators set two deadlines along the way: by 2026, 35 percent of new vehicles must produce zero emissions. In 2030, that number jumps to 68 percent. The regulation leaves a little bit of wiggle room for plug-in hybrids, which can make up a maximum of 20 percent of new car sales after 2035. Eligible hybrids will need to be capable of running at least 50 miles on batteries before using gas. Used car sales will be unaffected.
The regulation is expected to cut California’s greenhouse gas output in half by 2040. Prior to that, it’ll reduce the presence of smog-forming nitrogen oxides by at least 25 percent.
“The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday during the news conference. “California now has a groundbreaking, world-leading plan to achieve 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. It’s ambitious, it’s innovative, it’s the action we must take if we’re serious about leaving this planet better off for future generations.”
The final step in cementing the new regulation is to send it to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where it’s expected to be signed without issue. Though California is allowed the unique ability to regulate car sales in a way no other state can, other states, like New York, New Jersey, and Washington, are expected to follow California’s lead as closely as they can.
The restrictions will no doubt have some drivers upset over the loss of their favorite gas-powered models, but if capitalism truly drives innovation (pun not intended), automakers will find a way to bring those fan favorites back to life. In fact, they already are: Last week Dodge announced an all-electric Charger, which is expected to hit dealerships in 2024. Ford, meanwhile, is poised to put out a relatively affordable electric version of the F-150, called the F-150 Lightning; on the other end of the budget spectrum, an electric iteration of the traditionally gas-guzzling Land Rover will hit streets next year.