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)