California Says New Cars Must Meet Zero Emissions Standards by 2035

Andrew Koole
· 3 min read
Electric cars
are still a tiny fraction of the vehicles on the road today. Only 1.8% of last year’s auto sales were of battery-powered vehicles. But
Gov. Gary Newsom wants to change all that, starting with his state.
California already sells more EVs than any other state. Electric cars made up 8% of the state’s auto sales last year. To encourage that trend, Gov. Newsom signed an executive order forcing new cars to meet zero-emissions standards by 2035.
While the order is the first of its kind in the U.S., 15 other countries, including Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom have set similar targets. With the largest population in the country, California will most likely motivate other states to follow its lead in the transition off of fossil-fueled engines.
California has long been a leader in car emissions standards.

California’s climate rules: the details

Gov. Newsom’s order is more than a gas-powered car ban. It’s a call to legislators to develop a plan that would transform the state’s transportation system.
Newsom demanded the development of affordable fueling and charging options. He also required the state to invest in alternatives to private vehicle ownership like public transportation and pedestrian infrastructure.
Consumer Reports
(CR) says the executive order should affect the auto industry in a major way. California already buys 45% of the zero-emissions vehicles sold in the U.S.
CR experts predict that the new rule will motivate automakers to develop more choices for consumers and widen the price range of new EVs.
MORE: How Eco-Friendly are Electric Vehicles, Actually?
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Can California meet its zero-emissions standards?

2035 might seem like an early target for moving off gas-powered cars but with the help of the federal government and the support of the auto industry, California probably won’t have much trouble meeting its self-inflicted deadline.
President Biden has spoken openly about his alignment with Gov. Newsom. And after some initial pushback by the Trump administration and automakers, the
New York Times
says the industry quickly changed its tune after the 2020 election.
Just 17 days after the election was finalized, General Motors pulled its support of the former president’s legal fight against California’s new target. Industry group Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR), led by Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, followed suit in February.

Your role in the electric revolution

MORE: EVs Will Start To Take Over Sooner Than You Expect
With governments and automakers working together to transition to electric and emissions-free vehicles, the only thing standing in the way of a complete shift is you, the consumer.
It might feel early to make the shift to electric power, but automakers are making it easier every year. Fully electric cars still start at $30,000, pricing many buyers out of the market, but Toyota and Hyundai have already dipped below that marker with their plug-in hybrid models, and industry experts expect prices to drop in the coming years as well.
The initial price for going electric might still be too high for some, but
Car and Driver
says maintenance and energy costs are lower for EVs than gas-powered vehicles. Buying an electrified car also gives you access to government subsidies and insurance discounts.
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