California Takes Huge Step Toward 'Eliminating the Tailpipe'

State plans to ban sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2022 9:50 AM CDT
California Moves to End Sales of Gas-Powered Cars
Electric cars are parked at a charging station in Sacramento, Calif., on April 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

California has followed up its move to phase out gas-powered mowers with an even more ambitious goal—phasing out gas-powered cars. The California Air Resources Board voted Thursday in favor of banning the sale of new gas-powered cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs by 2035, the AP reports. After that date, people will still be able to drive older gas-powered vehicles, but the state will only allow the sale of new electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles, plus a limited number of plug-in hybrids. More:

  • Newsom wants to make the tailpipe obsolete. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who first announced the plan in 2020, tells the New York Times that the move is "one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it." "Our kids are going to act like it’s a rotary phone, or changing the channel on a television," he says.

  • Other states are likely to follow suit. California is the nation's biggest buyer of vehicles, and the move will have a big effect on other states. Washington and Massachusetts have already announced plans to follow suit, and another 15 states follow California's emissions rules, which are tougher than federal rules. "Automakers don’t like making different cars for different states, so California sets the de facto standard for the country and other parts of the world," Vox notes.
  • Auto industry is on the same page. While there are massive production challenges ahead, including sourcing enough raw materials for batteries and expanding charging networks, major US auto makers and their overseas counterparts are moving in the same direction as California and are spending tens of billions of dollars to expand their electric vehicle offerings, reports the New York Times. Ford wants 40% of its vehicles to be electric by 2030 and Volkswagen plans to phase out gas-powered vehicles in Europe by 2035 at the latest.
  • Pushback. The California rule, called the CARB Advanced Clean Cars II rule, still requires a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency. While the Biden administration has signaled it will be granted, opponents are urging the EPA to reconsider. Reuters reports the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association urged the administration Thursday to reject the "unlawful ban," saying granting the waiver "would hand over sweeping federal government authority to California regulators, effectively appointing Governor Newsom and CARB as car and truck czars for the entire United States."

  • Steps along the way. The new California regulations require 35% of new vehicles sold to be electric by 2026, up from 16% now, per the AP. The challenges the state will face to make the transformation happen over the next 13 years include strengthening the power grid, expanding the number of vehicle chargers from 80,000 to well over 1 million, and ensuring that there are electric vehicles low-income Californians can afford.
  • Move "feels inevitable." Shannon Osaka at the Washington Post writes that the switch from gas to electric vehicles has accelerated and now "feels inevitable." She writes that while electric vehicles were seen as the choice of "passionate environmentalists" or "wealthy technophiles," automakers have made inroads to "a swath of America that is decidedly not crunchy and environmentalist" with vehicles like the Ford F-150 Lightning EV and the GMC Hummer EV—"a monstrous, electricity-guzzling house on wheels that many environmentalists abhorred."
(Read more electric vehicles stories.)

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