California air regulators are expected Thursday to issue tough rules to ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035 and set interim targets for the auto phase out.
Sperling added that he was “99.9%” confident that the measure would pass. If that happens, it will be one of the first worldwide bans. It could also have significant implications for the US auto market, given the size of California’s large economy.
“That’s massive,” Sperling said. “This is the most important thing that CARB has done in the last 30 years. It is important not only for the state of California, but it is important for the country and the world.”
The new board rules will also set temporary quotas for zero-emissions vehicles, with an emphasis on new models. Starting with 2026 models, 35% of new cars, SUVs, and pickups sold in California are required to be zero-emissions vehicles. This share will increase each year, and is expected to reach 51% of all new car sales in 2028, 68% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. The quotas will also allow 20% of zero-emissions cars sold to be plug-in hybrids. .
The rules will not affect used vehicles and allow those vehicles to remain on the roads.
Sperling said the rule-writing process has received “a surprising bit of controversy” and backtracking from car companies, noting that the companies themselves are embracing the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. Several companies including Ford and GM have announced ambitious plans to move toward zero-emission cars, trucks and SUVs.
“Car companies see what’s happening in China, in Europe,” Sperling said. “Many of them have already made announcements about how they are going completely electric.”
Other blue states have followed California’s lead on tighter vehicle emissions in the past; Sperling and other officials are watching to see if the Pacific Northeast and Northwest states in particular follow suit in the latest move.
“This is a big part of the US market,” Sperling said. “Even if the Fed does not act from a regulatory perspective, a large part 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 mandating that all vehicles sold in the state must be zero-emissions by 2035.
California also got a boost from the Biden administration, that restored California’s longstanding ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards earlier this year. The Trump administration backtracked on ceding California in 2019.
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