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California Considers Banning the Sales of Gas-Powered Automobiles

August 25, 2022

A news report published on states that California air quality officials are set to vote on a new rule that would ban the sale of gasoline-powered automobiles by 2035.

The new regulation would require all new cars sold in California to be zero-emission. The law would ultimately phase out internal combustion engines to reduce planet-warming emissions. If the regulation is passed, carbon dioxide and smog-producing nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced.

According to Governor Gavin Newsom, the current climate crisis can be solved by taking "bold steps" to stop the tide of carbon pollution. Governor Newsom believes that the regulation is an ambitious step that will leave our planet in a better place for the generations to come. 

The law would create a credit system for auto manufacturers who start supplying California car dealerships with zero-emission, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered motor vehicles. The bill would also take effect in 2026. By 2026, 35% of all new motor vehicles auto manufacturers sell to California dealerships must be zero-emission, plug-in hybrids, or hydrogen-powered motor vehicles. The law would increase the number of zero-emission, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen-powered vehicles sold in California to 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

Should an automaker fail to meet the required percentages, the auto manufacturer would be mandated to obtain credits from another car maker that had exceeded their quota. California can also punish automakers who fail to meet the regulation's targets. The fines could equal as much as $20,000 for every motor vehicle short of their target per year. 

Newsom signed an executive order that directs the California Air Resources Board to design the phasing out of new gasoline-powered motor vehicle sales. The California Air Resources Board has avoided calling the regulation a "ban." Although some new gasoline-powered motor vehicles will be allowed to be sold in California, the vehicles must be plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). The regulation also requires the PHEVs to run 50 miles or further on batteries before swapping to gas.

The new regulations are estimated to reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by over 50% in 2040. These emissions are the leading cause of carbon dioxide in California and account for nearly 40% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. State government officials report that the plan could slash smog-forming nitrogen oxides by 25% or more by 2037. Some environmental organizations believe that these targets are not adequate. California is unique because it is the only state that can regulate automobiles, and the state is able to obtain waivers from federal rules. 

California has about 43% of all electric motor vehicles nationwide. In 2021, approximately 12% of all new motor vehicle sales were plug-in hybrid or zero-emission motor vehicles.

According to Brian Maas, President of the California New Car Dealers Association, their organization is "all-in" on moving to zero-emission motor vehicles. The California New Car Dealers Association represents over 1,200 franchised new truck and car dealer members. The organization does have several concerns about the transition to 100% zero-emission vehicles. The group worries about the stability of the supply chain and the demand for raw materials. Consumers and car dealers have witnessed the historic high prices of new cars driven by semiconductor shortages, rising inflation, and increased demand post-pandemic.

One of the most considerable obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is price. The average price of a new electric vehicle is more than $45,000. Luxury electric vehicles average around $66,000. If the plan is going to work, the price of zero-emission, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen-powered vehicles must come down. 

California government officials believe the cost of electric vehicles will reach parity with gasoline-powered cars by 2030.

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