California will ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. That’s the decision state air regulators approved this week, and if it succeeds, it will be the first such ban in the United States and one of the first in the world. The ban follows an order by the state’s governor with close to the same objective.
To say that this decision, from the country’s most populated state, is momentous would be an understatement. California’s size and sway tend to influence other states’ decisions in such matters, so it’s likely to spark at least a handful of changes in other states. Several states are already on board with California’s previous moves on electric vehicles and emissions, including Colorado and New York.
As you can imagine, not everyone is on board with the change. Even those that see its benefits are advocating for a cautious approach. The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) rules would require that 35% of new vehicles sold in the state be zero-emission by 2026. That percentage increases yearly until it reaches 51% by 2028 and 100% by 2035. Up to 20% of zero-emissions vehicles can be plug-in hybrids.
Used vehicles aren’t included in the ban, so there will still be plenty of gas vehicles on the roads and gas stations to service them. Even so, California’s ban comes after most major automakers have made varying degrees of commitment to going electric. Some have promised a total shift by the decade’s end, while others have committed to shifting half or more of their global sales volume. Either way, this is a significant step toward the end of new gas vehicles in all states.