Regulators in California on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a plan that will bar the sale of new internal combustion vehicles in the state by 2035.
The Advanced Clean Cars II act (pdf), voted on by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), will also gradually phase out gas-powered vehicles in the state over the next dozen years or so. Thirty-five percent of vehicles manufactured in 2026 and sold in California would have to be “zero emission,” up from 12 percent required today.
“The proposal will substantially reduce air pollutants that threaten public health,” CARB said in a statement.
People can continue driving gas-fueled vehicles and purchasing used ones after 2035 under the measure. The plan also allows for one-fifth of sales after 2035 to be plug-in hybrids that can run on batteries and gas, while the rest must be electric vehicles.
The move is supported by Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said in a statement this week it would suit his climate-related goals for the state.
“California now has a groundbreaking, world-leading plan to achieve 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035,” said Newsom, who in a 2020 executive order asked CARB for the regulation.
There are practical hurdles to overcome to reach the goal, notably enough reliable power and charging stations. California now has about 80,000 stations in public places, far short of the 250,000 it needs by 2025, according to The Associated Press.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents many major car makers, flagged the lack of infrastructure, access to materials needed to make batteries, and supply chain issues among the challenges to meeting the state’s timeline.
“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,” John Bozella, the group’s president, said in a statement. “These are complex, intertwined, and global issues well beyond the control of either CARB or the auto industry.”
Keanna Valentine, a spokesperson for Transportation California Today, said Thursday that while the group supports similar initiatives to reduce emissions, California’s “economic analysis underestimates the impacts to state and local transportation funding” with the act.
The “state highway system is already facing a [significant] funding gap” to maintain and expand California’s roads, Valentine said, adding that Advanced Clean Cars II would reduce revenue for such projects.
Another commenter, who represents a trade organization representing companies in California, claimed Thursday that the act “is not an emission standard, but rather a technology mandate” that doesn’t take into account “less costly, more viable alternatives.”
The “economic impact, particularly for low and moderate-income households” was “not adequately captured” by the act, the commentator said.
Meanwhile, the price for electric vehicles has actually been increasing in recent months despite forecasts that it would decrease amid new state and federal rulemaking.
The average price of an electric vehicle in July 2022 is $62,893, which is up about 15 percent from $54,797 a year earlier, said Edmunds, a car pricing service.
“We all wish there were more affordable [electric vehicles] in the marketplace today—there are none,” Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury told Axios earlier this month.
The price increase, in part, is due to spikes in the cost of raw materials such as nickel and lithium, which are used heavily in electric vehicle battery production, the report noted.
As for when the price will come down, another analyst said it’s not clear.
“They’re going the wrong direction and everyone knows that at the end of the day, price is the biggest factor in determining what people buy,” iSeeCars analyst Karl Brauer told Axios.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.