By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — California air regulators are setting new targets to increase sales of electric vehicles in the coming years as the state moves to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, according to a new recommendation released Tuesday.
The proposal, released by the California Air Resources Board, would require that 35% of new vehicles delivered to California be zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the 2026 model year. Then, by 2035, the proposal would require 100% of new car sales in California to be electric vehicles, with 20% allowed to be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with combustion engines.
The regulations would put California on a path to achieving a goal set by Gov. Gavin Newsom to phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles in California by 2035. The governor signed an executive order in September 2020 that would require the sale of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035.
In March, the Biden administration reinstated California’s ability to set its vehicle emissions standards, which Gov. Newsom called a “major victory for the environment, our economy and the health of families across the country.”
“Mobile sources” are the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in California, “accounting for about 80% of ozone precursor emissions and approximately 50% of statewide GHG emissions,” air regulators said in the proposal. Increasing the use of electric vehicles would “significantly reduce” GHG emissions caused by gas-powered vehicles, the board wrote.
However, regulators recognized that gas-powered vehicles “will remain in use on California’s roads well beyond 2035,” as they would not ban Californians from driving pre-owned gas-powered automobiles. Consumers would also be able to continue selling pre-owned gas-powered cars under the regulations.
The board estimates that the primary businesses impacted by these regulations are manufacturers that sell on-road light-duty vehicles in California. Currently 17 companies would be subject to the rules, regulators said.
“The cost to manufacturers will be high per vehicle in the early years, but significantly decrease over time by 2035,” regulators said.
The proposal also sets out durability requirements for electric cars, requiring vehicles to get at least 150 miles per charge. Regulators said this will ensure consumers can replace gas-powered vehicles with electric cars that “meet their needs for transportation and protect the emission benefits of the program.”
“These standards will also reduce the total cost of ownership for passenger cars and light trucks, saving drivers money in the long term and further promoting consumer adoption,” the proposal states.
The California Air Resources Board is scheduled to hold a board hearing on these regulations on June 9. The proposal will require the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to The Associated Press.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.