California moves toward phasing out gas-fueled vehicles

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California plans to require all new cars, trucks and SUVs to run on electricity or hydrogen by 2035 under a policy approved by regulators Thursday that aims a drastic reduction in carbon emissions and the eventual end of gasoline. Vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board’s decision came two years after Governor Gavin Newsom first ordered regulators to consider such a policy. If the goal is met, California would cut car emissions in half by 2040.

The move gives the most populous U.S. state the toughest regulations in the world for transitioning to electric vehicles. It should encourage other states to follow California’s lead and accelerate the production of zero-emission vehicles by automakers.

The policy has yet to be approved by the federal government, but it is seen as highly likely under Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration.

“This is a historic moment for California, for our partner states, and for the world as we blaze this trail toward a zero-emissions future,” air board president Liane Randolph told a hearing. public before the vote.

The policy allows Californians to continue driving gasoline vehicles and buying used ones after 2035, but no new models would be sold in the state.

A fifth of automakers’ sales after 2035 could be plug-in hybrids, which run on batteries and gas, but the rest must be powered solely by electricity or hydrogen.

In June, the European Parliament backed a plan to effectively ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the 27 European Union countries by 2035, and Canada mandated the sale of zero-emission cars. here the same year.

California climate officials say the state’s new policy is the most ambitious in the world, as it sets benchmarks for increased electric vehicle sales over the next 13 years.

The first mandatory threshold comes in 2026, when one-third of all vehicles sold in the state must be zero-emissions. Automakers could be fined $20,000 per vehicle sold below that target.

About 16% of cars sold in California in the first three months of this year were electric.

Washington state and Massachusetts have already said they will follow California’s lead and many more are likely to do so – New York and Pennsylvania are among 17 states that have adopted some or all of the standards California tailpipe emissions that are more stringent than federal rules.

Laurie Holmes of Kia Corp. said the company plans to spend $25 billion by 2025 on electric vehicles and hopes to offer seven models by 2027.

But she and several other automaker representatives have expressed concern about the state’s timeline given factors including supply chain challenges and the high cost of materials to build electric cars.

“Automakers may have significant difficulty achieving this goal given factors beyond the industry’s control,” she said.

Switching from gas-powered to electric cars will significantly reduce emissions and air pollutants, but the transition will be painful for the state’s oil industry. California remains the seventh-largest oil-producing US state, although its production is declining as it pursues its climate goals.

California shouldn’t frame its entire transportation strategy around a market for electric-powered vehicles, said Tanya DeRivi, vice president of climate policy for the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group. .

“California people should be able to choose vehicle technology, including electric vehicles, that best suits their needs based on availability, affordability and personal necessity,” she said.

California is the most populous state in the country, with around 39 million people. They represent 10%. of the US auto market, but own 43% of the 2.6 million plug-in vehicles registered in the country, according to the Air Board.

Achieving the 100% target by 2035 will mean overcoming some very practical hurdles, including a sufficiently reliable power supply and charging stations.

California now has about 80,000 stations in public places, well below the 250,000 desired by 2025. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents many major automakers, warned of the lack of infrastructure, access to materials needed to manufacture batteries, and supply chain issues as some of the challenges to meet the state schedule.

The new commitment came as California strives to maintain reliable electricity while moving away from gas-fired power plants in favor of solar, wind and other cleaner energy sources. Earlier this year, top California energy officials warned that the state could run out of power during the hottest days of summer, which happened briefly in August 2020.

It hasn’t happened yet this year. But Newsom, a Democrat, is pushing to keep the state’s last nuclear plant open beyond its planned 2025 tie-up, and the state could turn to diesel generators or natural gas plants as a backup. when the power grid is under strain.

Adding car chargers will increase demand on the energy grid.

Ensuring access to charging stations is also key to increasing sales of electric vehicles. The infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year provides $5 billion for states to set charges for every 80 kilometers (50 miles) along interstate highways.

Newsom, meanwhile, has pledged to spend billions to boost sales of zero-emission vehicles, including adding chargers in low-income neighborhoods. The new rules approved by the Air Board state that vehicles must be able to travel 150 miles (241 kilometers) on a single charge.

Driving an electric vehicle long distances today, even in California, requires careful planning of where to stop and recharge, said Mary Nichols, former chair of the California Air Resources Board. State and federal money will go a long way to bolstering that infrastructure and making electric cars a more practical option, she said.

“It will be a transformational process and the vehicle sales mandate is just one part of that,” she said.

Although hydrogen is a fuel option under the new regulations, fuel cell cars have accounted for less than 1% of car sales in recent years.

State governments and the federal government are offering multi-thousand dollar rebates to offset the cost of buying electric cars, and the rules provide incentives for automakers to make used electric vehicles available to people low or middle income.

Over the past 12 years, California has given more than $1 billion in rebates for the sale of 478,000 electric, plug-in or hybrid vehicles, according to the Air Board.

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