California Is About To Vote To Ban Sales Of New Gas-Powered Cars By 2035: Report

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On Thursday, the state of California is set to vote on a proposal that will ban sales of new internal combustion engine-powered cars in the state. If passed, California will be the first state to ban sales of gas-powered vehicles and more states are expected to follow. What’s going on here?

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, fear not because I have an explanation: In 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that sought to phase out the sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. But until now, that has only been a goal. On Thursday, the California Air Resources Board will vote on the ban.

As reported by the New York Times, if passed, the impact will be huge. CARB will require that by 2035, 100 percent of all new cars sold in California have to be emissions free. Currently, 16 percent of California’s vehicles are not powered by internal combustion engines. In the meantime, between now and 2035, CARB is setting goals for phasing out sales of new ICE-powered cars. In 2026, the number is expected to rise to 35 percent. And in 2030, 68 percent of California’s new car sales are expected to be emissions-free.

In case you were wondering about exactly what kinds of vehicles will no longer be sold new with an internal combustion engine, I was able to find the proposed legislation. It covers passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks, or more specifically, vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of no more than 8,500 pounds. It also covers small-volume manufacturers, so even one-offs will have to be zero-emissions vehicles. Additionally, Governor Newson seeks to ban the sales of new ICE-powered medium and heavy duty vehicles. But that is still just targeted for 2045.

Of course, the ban only covers the sales of new vehicles. Residents of the state will still be able to purchase and drive used gasoline and diesel-powered cars and trucks.

This development comes on the heels of President Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act last week. The Act authorizes $369 billion in spending on fighting climate change. It also seeks to create manufacturing jobs, lower living costs, reduce the deficit, and changes to corporate taxes. The Inflation Reduction Act also makes a bunch of changes to the tax credits available to hybrid and electric cars.

It also comes after California signed a law banning the sale of new small off-road engines starting in 2024, with portable generators following in 2028. California is being hailed as the first government in the world to mandate zero-emissions vehicles. But the state isn’t exactly alone. The European Union recently voted to ban the sales of ICE-powered cars by 2035. But what the EU’s regulations will look like are not completely clear just yet. Of course, auto manufacturers also have their own targets for going emissions-free.

Currently, 13 states and Washington D.C. follow California’s lead on vehicle emission standards. That number used to be 12 states, but Colorado most recently joined in 2018 with standards going into effect in the 2022 model year. As the New York Times points out, there are an additional five states that follow California’s broader emissions strategy as well.

The states following California’s lead could introduce their own bans on sales of new internal combustion vehicles. And if those states and Washington D.C. introduce similar measures, it’ll mean that more than a third of America’s car market (by state) will not allow the sales of ICE-powered vehicles in the near future.

(Top image credit: CalTrans)

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67 Responses

  1. Ok, so what should state or federal governments do to try and rapidly decarbonize society? Eliminating ICE isn’t a panacea, but not doing anything because it’s hard also isn’t an option. Things should have been done generations ago, but here we are.

    1. Generations ago, Exxon executives said “we’ll be dead by the time stuff hits the fan” (they predicted 400ppm by 2020, and here we are, right on schedule.) Now, they all get to claim how they are diversifying to make sure we have a clean energy future (looking at you, BP) and making those into profit centers so they get money for messing things up, and now for “cleaning” things up. Meanwhile, the oil shills keep clutching their pearls about how bad EVs will be so us proles keep at each others’ throats while the rich guys clean up. And so it goes…

    2. First, as soon as the deadline looms, there will be inevitable legislative efforts to roll back the effective date. These will succeed, because California politicians can’t say no to special interests. And the fact is, California is the sixth largest oil producer of all the states. So the emotional release they got today, by passing this ban, will later be changed, if reason exists anywhere in the state, to new vehicle PHEV requirements, with a hypothetical roll-out of all electric postponed to 2050. Maybe.

      This assumes that drought hasn’t killed everyone off by then. Or fires haven’t burned them out. Or monkeypox doesn’t accelerate into pandemic proportions. Or that the whole population of Texas doesn’t get fed up with increasingly unliveable regulations, and move to Texas en masse.

      1. CA has three populations: 1) the filthy rich who can basically do whatever they want or rewrite the rules to suit them (cough French laundry cough), 2) those who are unemployed/homeless or have ten kids while working at McDonald’s, and everyone else working their ass off to pay for inadequate housing.

        Group 1 will just pay to have lightly used luxury cars shipped in (expect a hot nationwide market for 7500 mile S-classes), the CA government will declare a humanitarian crises and supply group 2 with gas vouchers, which are paid for by increasing taxes on group 3 who are forced to buy these new $60000 cars and pay 25% increased rent to install chargers in every apartment parking space. There will be a subsequent increase in theft of these cars, whole or whatever battery components can be stripped from underneath, while protesters heavily vandalize remaining ICE vehicles which are not garage parked at night, neither of which will be prosecuted because it’s not their fault and they total just steal this stuff to feed their kids.

        Yes, I spent some time in SoCal.

        1. Everyone just thinks of the cities. The cities are just a pimple on the vast state of California. Agriculture and industry outside of city boundaries will all but cease without access to ICE vehicles.

          1. And don’t forget, CA produces something like 20% of our food. The whole country will be boned if that goes away (whether from drought or transportation). Might want to ask Germany how becoming dependent on imports for basic necessities is going (energy for heat in their case).

    3. Addressing the biggest polluters instead- manufacturing, power generation, and overseas shipping (air and sea). These industries pollute on a completely different scale than average joe consumers like us.

      It’s all well and good to force people to buy insanely expensive car-shaped iPhones, but let’s be real. We all know that governments are regulating what us little people can buy because they will never be allowed to change manufacturing, power generation, and overseas shipping. Those industries control our government. Meanwhile we have no say, so here we are. Being forced to buy $50,000 electronic devices that will wear out in a couple years thanks to the entire power source being one giant consumable.

      Apparently I’m the one causing all the pollution with my gas-powered car and my affinity for using Amazon, definitely not the coal burning power plant down the road, or the mega factories making cheap junk out of plastic that’s shipped to the US for sale on ships burning barely refined oil. Nope, it’s my fault.

      1. Don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s not JUST you. It’s all of us. According to the EPA, the transportation sector accounts for about 25% of GHG emissions: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

        So, are cars and trucks the only problem? No, but they’re a big part of the problem. And they’re something we are able to do something about in the relatively short term. And it’s not like they aren’t also working to curb emissions in these other sectors as well.

        1. The pie chart you linked proves my point.

          27% of greenhouse gases comes from transportation. However, you are falsely equating ‘transportation’ with ‘passenger vehicles.’ That 27% figure includes OTR trucks, ships, trains, and airplanes. What percentage of that 27% is just road cars? The EPA doesn’t specify here.

          Additionally, industry, power generation, and commercial and home energy use make up a whopping 62% of emissions! But sure, we have to address the passenger car problem, definitely not majority of the pie.

          1. Not falsely equating at all. That was your interpretation. Perhaps you missed “So, are cars and trucks the only problem? No, but they’re a big part of the problem.”
            I’m just saying that this is a portion of emissions that we CAN do something about and I think we should. Of course they’re not doing nothing about the rest of that sector and the other sectors as well, as you seem to imply. But if that’s the fantasy you want to comfort yourself with, I can’t stop you.

            1. I don’t want this to devolve into a dumb internet argument, for the record, so if I’m coming across as antagonistic, I don’t mean to. I apologize.

              We definitely should do many somethings to fix our dependency on dirty energy. I believe that outlawing gas-only cars is the wrong approach because there are much bigger systemic sources of pollution that could also be addressed by enacting regulations.

              Personally, I’ve seen very little about concerted efforts to effect widespread changes to electricity production, with nuclear being basically a non-starter. I’ve seen even less about clean manufacturing, and I understand for a lot of sectors that’s basically impossible. Alternative fuels for ships and planes are a pipe dream at this point, but at least there’s active research into that.

              I have an honest question because I genuinely don’t know. Does this CA proposal come with plans for shoring up the power grid to handle all the extra draw? And is that plan just -build more coal plants-? If so, isn’t that kind of one step forward, two steps back?

              1. Now that’s an excellent question.
                I disagree with your apparent premise that attempting to convert cars and trucks to electric over time is a bad idea just because it doesn’t address every other source of greenhouse gases. However, I agree with you that if this law was the ONLY effort being made, it would be worse than useless. Even though the US Government is way behind on this (thanks in part to the recent gutting/neutering of the EPA), there are still plenty of initiatives that are being put into place, many on the individual state level. Forgive the quick and dirty internet search and lack of peer-reviewed papers listed below, but here’s what a few minutes of searching brought up:
                – Far from being a “non-starter”, 12 nuclear reactors in the US have been saved from premature retirement over the past several years, and there are 7 large and 11 small new nuclear reactors that have either been approved or are in the process (https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/usa-nuclear-power.aspx).
                – There are lots of initiatives to provide cleaner fuels for the trucking industry (https://www.ndtransportation.com/nd-blog/clean-energy-fuels-in-the-trucking-industry/), and China is making huge inroads into converting their trucking fleet to electric vehicles – perhaps the USA might follow-suit.
                – Many states are pursuing clean energy initiatives to help lower emissions from homes and businesses (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/renewable-sources/incentives.php). And I think (but don’t know for sure) that California may be the leader in the nation in these kinds of efforts (https://www.energy.ca.gov/programs-and-topics/topics/renewable-energy).

              2. Since it takes an unforgivably long time for posts with links to get approved, I’ve reposted my reply without links and perhaps we’ll eventually get to see the one with links:
                Now that’s an excellent question. I disagree with your apparent premise that attempting to convert cars and trucks to electric over time is a bad idea just because it doesn’t address every other source of greenhouse gases. However, I agree with you that if this law was the ONLY effort being made, it would be worse than useless. Even though the US Government is way behind on this (thanks in part to the recent gutting/neutering of the EPA), there are still plenty of initiatives that are being put into place, many on the individual state level. Forgive the quick and dirty internet search and lack of peer-reviewed papers listed below, but here’s what a few minutes of searching brought up: – Far from being a “non-starter”, 12 nuclear reactors in the US have been saved from premature retirement over the past several years, and there are 7 large and 11 small new nuclear reactors that have either been approved or are in the process (link redacted). – There are lots of initiatives to provide cleaner fuels for the trucking industry (link redacted), and China is making huge inroads into converting their trucking fleet to electric vehicles – perhaps the USA might follow-suit. – Many states are pursuing clean energy initiatives to help lower emissions from homes and businesses (link redacted). And I think (but don’t know for sure) that California may be the leader in the nation in these kinds of efforts (link redacted).

      2. This is correct. It unceasingly bugs the hell out of me that mandates are placed upon vehicles for regular citizens, but they won’t touch industry or transportation (airlines) itself because they have lobbyists who can stand up for them. Not only is this not the answer, it’s lazily grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit. The real polluters are cargo ships and airplanes and, in a distant third, OTR trucking.

        1. Low hanging fruit is still fruit.
          The difference between airlines and personal transportation is that making a change in personal transportation is something that is achievable. There currently isn’t a valid replacement technology for air travel, although creating cleaner fuels from bio-sources and advances in electric aircraft could help make a dent eventually. Here’s just one example of research being done in that area: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/sci-tech/sustainable-aviation_-green–aviation-fuel-aims-to-power-planes-by-2030/45804038
          Sure, it’s way behind the development of electric cars, but progress is being made.

  2. All political discussion aside, does anyone else have this weird empty feeling that the one main interest/hobby you’ve had all your life is going away in your lifetime?

    Honestly, what will I do with myself when all cars are electric self-driving blob things someday?

  3. I hate to say this, but we need a good plauge or world war to wipe about 6 billion people off the face of the earth. Thats the only real way you are going to make any sort of impact on greenhouse emissions and climate change.

    The population boom over the past 100 years is whats really destroying our planet, not your 2015 Corolla or F150 that everybody in Cali drives. This ban of ICE wont stick unless the tech behind EVs radically changes in the next 5 years and costs come down significantly. Right now they are just a novelty for rich people.

  4. All vehicles EVS? GREAT if you don’t have a shot electric grid, California does. Great if you don’t have earthquakes, snow storms, torrential rain storms or clouds. California does. Great if you don’t have idiots running the government passing feel good laws. California does. Great if half the people in the state aren’t trying to separate from the state. California does.
    That being said I’m sure it will be smooth sailing because Governor Newsuince has been just a perfect leader. As for California climate change can’t come soon enough.

  5. I believe in the future of clean vehicles but this is just a fashion statement. This will only drive used car prices higher and the average citizen won’t be able to afford a decent car, electric or ICE. Next they’ll tell you to turn off the a/c in your house so the grid can support charging stations. It’s for the greater good.

  6. Thanks for a non political news story about cars, national policy and environment. Comments are right in line with my thinking.

    Other site headline: “It’s about time! California passes bill to ban all ICE by 2035. Environment saved for at California!”

  7. So the value of 1-2 year old cars will skyrocket as people by almost new cars and bring them back to California. California looses all of the sales tax revenue and changes nothing in the end, but they tried their best and meant well, so that is what counts. Sounds like a great idea.

  8. I presume California also has plans to improve public charing infrastructure? In particular, how does California plan to address charging for those who don’t have a driveway or garage? Also, how will California address charging in remote parts of the state?

    I’ve read about California’s ICE ban in a few places, but I have yet to see any information about how the state plans to improve charging infrastructure.

  9. Meanwhile, the CA legislature is fighting against a plan to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open past 2025, a plant which provides up to 9% of the state’s energy. You know it’s bad when Governor Newsom’s office called the plan “fantasy and fairy dust”.

    1. California’s power supply in 2017 was about 34% natural gas, 29% renewable, 15% large hydro, 9% nuclear, 4% coal and 9% other unspecified sources. In Los Angeles, much of the city’s electricity comes from three natural gas-fired power plants.

      we have to think about this when Newsom tries for the presidency now that Biden VP is a lame duck.

      The drought may reduce or even eliminate the Hydro percent. The question we should ask is by 2035 can California survive if the Coal and Natural gas plants are removed? Otherwise this is just moving the emissions needle. Honestly that whole state needs to try to live off nothing related to those two things. See how that works out for them.

    2. I don’t understand the anti-nuclear sentiment, especially among people who are very concerned about climate change. If climate change is an existential threat that needs to be addressed at all costs, why ignore (or attempt to eliminate) a carbon-free power source that has a long track record of safe use? We really should be building more nuclear power plants.

      1. I see a business op here.
        Take orders for “used cars” from another state. Purchase said car, put it up on jack stands and “drive it” until you have the required 7500 miles. Sell it for profit. Ship trailers full of them.

        The Ferengi would be proud.

  10. I could be wrong, but I didn’t think California would be the first state to ban gas powered cars. Washington State passed a similar law earlier this year banning gas vehicle sales by 2030 called “Move Ahead Washington”. According to the NYT reporting:
    “A few states — including New York, Washington and Massachusetts — already had similar legislation in the works, and many of the other states that follow California’s lead are expected to consider similar rules over the next year or so.” Am I missing something?

    1. You’re not missing anything. These laws are sort of convoluted. Washington beat California, but the state’s law is only a goal, not a requirement. As of right now, the Washington law is worded like this:

      “Sec. 415. (1) A target is established for the state that all publicly owned and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in Washington state be electric vehicles.

      (2) On or before December 31, 2023, the interagency electric vehicle coordinating council created in section 428 of this act shall complete a scoping plan for achieving the 2030 target.”

      https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2021-22/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/5974-S.PL.pdf?q=20220825064704

      Or in other words, the state wants you to be in an EV by 2030, but ICE sales can continue. Apparently, some reporting on Washington’s law has called it a ban, which has generated this response from officials:

      “Washington Senate Transportation Committee Chair Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) said he does not foresee changing the goal to a requirement. In recent weeks, it has been routinely misconstrued in automotive journals and online story posts as a forthcoming ban on gasoline-powered cars.”

      https://www.knkx.org/transportation/2022-04-11/washington-wants-drivers-to-plug-into-clean-cars-by-2030-before-other-west-coast-states

      New York’s plan is similarly just a goal. Massachusetts just passed its ban on new ICE sales in 2035, beating California by 2 weeks. But the MA law is actually a trigger law that requires California to pass its own law before the MA one becomes applicable.

      “SECTION 46. Subsection (d) of section 4 of chapter 93B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2020 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

      (4) to sell in-state any new vehicle that is not a zero-emission vehicle. For the purposes of this paragraph, “vehicle” shall mean a passenger car or light duty truck and “zero-emission vehicle” shall have the same meaning as defined in section 16 of chapter 25A.

      SECTION 96. Section 46 shall take effect upon the secretary of energy and environmental affairs’ certification in writing to the state secretary that a similar requirement regarding the sale of zero-emission vehicles has taken effect in the state of California; provided, however, that said section 46 shall not take effect prior to January 1, 2035 unless otherwise authorized by section 142k of chapter 111 of the General Laws.”

      Section 46 adds to an existing law that lays out what is illegal for car dealers to do. Upon the passage of an ICE sales ban in California, the Massachusetts law makes it illegal to sell ICE-powered vehicles sometime in 2035. The exact date would be set by a council, but it would be by December 31, 2035.

      https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2022/Chapter179
      https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXV/Chapter93B/Section4

      So California is technically first since it’s an actual ban and not a goal, and since the MA law doesn’t ban the sale of ICE cars unless California does it first.

  11. “it’ll mean that more than a third of America’s car market (by state) will not allow the sales of ICE-powered vehicles in the near future.”

    Amazing, since just a few days ago I was assured in the comments section of this very site that I had nothing to fear and that ICEs weren’t going to be banned.

    This is perhaps the most shortsighted and idiotic policy idea ever in a country that’s swimming in them. Let’s take a state already prone to brownouts and add a bunch more of an unproven and unfinished technology to that grid! Let’s ensure a reduction in living standards for our citizens while China builds more coal plants and laughs at our self-inflicted wounds.

    1. I wouldn’t worry to much. This is meaningless feel good nonsense.

      Every time the deadline is a few years away they will just extend it a little more until it’s 2050. At which point they will realize we should try going HEV and reinvest in nuclear.

      1. I pretty much agree… I think it’s a bit too ambitious both for the grid as well as vehicle transaction price. I guess both will be pretty heavily subsidized though, so maaaaaybe. I would like to see the CA CAFE requirements raised incrementally. That seems like a better way to lower CO2, and manufactures would bring on more BEVs to reach that goal. I guess it’ll be all figured out at some point.

        1. I just don’t think BEV really works for all use cases. Basically it works if you can garage the vehicle. And right now the average person who can afford a BEV has a garage or at least a private driveway.

          If everyone has to drive an EV an HEV makes more sense. It’s just an issue of being more difficult because of the fueling infrastructure.

          But what’s gets me the most is they are obsessed with carbon zero with no room for compromise but are unwilling to reevaluate nuclear power when that’s the only realistic way.

          1. Why is nuclear the only realistic way? There’s enough sunshine to run all of human civilization. Yes, you have to capture (and store) it, but we know how to do that and are getting better at it. I’m not categorically opposed to nuclear, but it seems like an expensive technical cul de sac and that investment would be better spent on putting solar panels on everything and improving sodium batteries

            1. Sure. Have you seen the piles of expired, un recyclable solar cells in California? Energy has a cost. Tools expire. Solar cells included. Also, your solar cells are made in China, since they are difficult to make cheaply (and environmentally friendly) here.

              1. Not to mention the Dead Battery conundrum. currently it is not financially viable to rebuild a battery pack, so they have to be disposed of somehow. Of course California is pushing for the rule of not being able to service your own vehicle, so if you were capable, you could not replace the cells yourself.

                1. I’m not interested in enumerating problems here. I know there are technical and financial problems to solve. What I want to know is how we’re going to decarbonize. Doing nothing or simply complaining it’s too hard is not a solution. *something * has to be done and nothing is going to be perfect.

                    1. Came here to say exactly this. CARB’s short-sighted CAFE legislation, riddled with unintended consequences, is similar. It’s primary success was to demonstrate you can’t successfully legislate from the supply side. Change has to come from the demand side or it’s doomed to failure. Sure, it sucks commuting to/through the city in that 10,000lb. F350, but whaddya gonna do where the charging infrastructure / electric grid can’t keep up?

              2. I haven’t seen the piles of expired solar cells, actually. My understanding is that even though their output degrades over time, they don’t really “expire” in the absence of physical trauma. Inverters historically have had a working life of ten years, but that seems to be increasing. The array on my house, for instance, has a 25 year full system warranty, whereas some vendors we got quotes from would price in a new replacement inverter in year 10.

            2. Solar can be a small scale supplement to Nuclear in southern states. But in the north where the sun only shines bright half the year and is covered in snow for at least a few months solar is a dead end. Also, solar is fine for residential and small commercial applications but how do you support industry? How many solar panels are needed to run an industrial arc furnace for smelting steel 24 hours a day for 3-4 months at a time?

              Nuclear is easily scaled, highly compatible with existing transmission and infrastructure, and has a much longer lifespan then solar. Not to mention you don’t need energy storage solutions since it can run at 100% capacity day or night, rain or shine, in any location.

      2. Hydrogen has too many problems, most rooted in basic physics, to be a solution for anything but perhaps heavy trucking.

        I’m with you on nuclear but that industry has a Hell of a PR battle to win first. The physics are solid, the politics and crisis management not so much.

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