California is moving toward phasing out gas-powered vehicles

California is moving toward phasing out gas-powered vehicles
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SACRAMENTO, California. (AP) – California plans to require all new cars, trucks and SUVs to run on electricity or hydrogen by 2035 under a policy approved Thursday by regulators seeking to drastically cut carbon emissions and phase out gasoline-powered vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board’s decision comes two years after Gov. Gavin Newsom initially directed regulators to consider such a policy. If the goal is met, California will cut vehicle emissions in half by 2040.

The move gives the US’s most populous state the world’s strictest rules for switching to electric cars. This is expected to prompt other states to follow California’s lead and accelerate the production of zero-emission vehicles by automakers.

The policy still needs federal approval, but that is most likely under the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.

“This is a historic moment for California, our partner states and the world as we chart this path toward a zero-emissions future,” said air board Chairwoman Liane Randolph during a public hearing before the vote.

The policy allows Californians to drive gas-powered cars and buy used cars after 2035, but no new models will be sold in the state.

After 2035, a fifth of automakers’ sales could be battery and gas-powered plug-in hybrids, but the rest would have to run solely on electricity or hydrogen.

In June, the European Parliament backed a plan to effectively ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in the 27-nation European Union by 2035, and Canada also mandated the sale of zero-emission cars that year.

California climate officials say the state’s new policy is the most ambitious in the world because it sets benchmarks to increase sales of electric vehicles over the next 13 years.

The first mandatory limit is in 2026, when one-third of all cars sold in the state must be zero-emission. Automakers can be fined $20,000 for a car that doesn’t meet that goal.

In the first three months of this year, about 16% of cars sold in California were electric vehicles.

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

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

But he and several other car company representatives expressed concern about the state’s timeline, given factors such as supply chain issues and the high cost of materials to build electric vehicles.

“Automakers may face significant challenges in meeting this target given elements beyond the industry’s control,” he said.

The switch from gas to electric vehicles will dramatically reduce emissions and air pollutants, but the transition will be painful for the state’s oil industry. California remains the seventh-largest oil-producing state in the United States, although production is declining as it moves forward with climate goals.

California doesn’t need to wrap its entire transportation strategy around an electric vehicle market, said Tanya DeRivie, vice president of climate policy at the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group.

“Californians should be able to choose the vehicle technology, including electric vehicles, that best fits their needs based on availability, affordability and personal necessity,” he said.

California is the nation’s most populous state with about 39 million people. They make up 10%. It has a share of the U.S. auto market, but has 43% of the nation’s 2.6 million registered plug-in vehicles, according to the air traffic control.

Achieving the 100% target by 2035 means overcoming many practical hurdles, notably sufficient reliable power and charging stations.

California currently has about 80,000 stations in public places, far short of the 250,000 it wants by 2025. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents many of the major automakers, cites a lack of infrastructure, access to the materials needed to make batteries, and a lack of a supply chain. issues are one of the challenges to meet the state’s timeline.

The new commitment comes as California works to maintain reliable electricity by moving away from gas-fired power plants in favor of solar, wind and other clean energy sources. Earlier this year, California’s top energy officials warned that the state would run out of power during the hottest days of the summer, which briefly occurred in August 2020.

It hasn’t happened yet this year. But Newsom, a Democrat, is pushing to keep the state’s last remaining nuclear plant open closer to 2025 than planned, and the state could turn to diesel generators or natural gas plants as backups when the power grid is strained.

Adding car chargers will put more demand on the power grid.

Providing access to charging stations is also key to increasing sales of electric vehicles. An infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year gives states $5 billion to build tolls every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along interstate highways.

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

Today, even in California, driving an electric vehicle long distances requires careful planning about where to stop and charge, said Mary Nichols, former chair of the California Air Resources Board. State and federal government money will go a long way toward strengthening that infrastructure and making electric vehicles a more affordable option, he said.

“This is going to be a transformative process and the vehicle sales mandate is just one part of that,” he said.

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

Both the state and federal governments have thousands of dollars in rebates to offset the cost of purchasing electric vehicles, and regulations include incentives for automakers to make used electric vehicles available to low- and moderate-income people.

Over the past 12 years, California has provided more than $1 billion in incentives for the sale of 478,000 electric, plug-in or hybrid vehicles, according to the air council.

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