California expected to ban new gas car sales by 2035, with Thursday vote

The California Air Resources Council will vote on the measure on Thursday afternoon, board member Daniel Sperling told CNN.

Sperling added that he was “99.9%” confident the measure would pass. If so, it would be one of the first such bans in the world. It could also have major implications for the US auto market, given the size of California’s economy.

“It’s monumental,” Sperling said. “It’s the most important thing CARB has done in the past 30 years. It’s important not just for California, but it’s important for the country and the world.”

The new council rules would also establish provisional quotas for zero-emission vehicles, focusing on new models. Starting with 2026 models, 35% of new cars, SUVs and small pickups sold in California are expected to be zero-emission vehicles. This quota would increase each year and should reach 51% of all new car sales in 2028, 68% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. The quotas would also allow 20% of zero-emission cars sold to be plug-in hybrids.

The rules would not affect used vehicles and allow such vehicles to remain on the roads.

Sperling said the rule-drafting process received “surprisingly little debate” and was being pushed back by automakers, a signal that the companies themselves are embracing the shift to zero-emission vehicles. Several companies, including Ford and GM, have already announced ambitious plans to move to zero-emission cars, trucks and SUVs.

“Automakers are seeing what’s happening in China, in Europe,” Sperling said. “Many of them have already made announcements about how they are fully converting to electric vehicles.”

Other blue states have followed California’s lead on stricter vehicle emissions in the past; Sperling and other officials are watching to see if northeast and Pacific Northwest states in particular follow suit with the latest decision.

“It’s a big part of the US market,” Sperling said. “Even if the federal government doesn’t move from a regulatory perspective, much of the country will move forward.”

Thursday’s vote is the culmination of years of work; in 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring all vehicles sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2035.

California also received a boost from the Biden administration, which restored California’s longstanding ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards earlier this year. The Trump administration canceled the California waiver in 2019.

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