Thirty-five percent of all new cars sold in California would be electric by 2026 under a new proposal from the state Air Resources Board.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has set a target of fully phasing out new fossil fuel-powered cars, the source of about 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, by 2035. The state is the first to set such a phaseout plan for vehicles. The new proposal would triple electric vehicle sales in the next four years.
“These standards and regulations expand off of the previous iteration of the program, which only went until vehicle model year 2025,” Kathy Harris, a clean vehicles and fuels advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Hill. “So these standards that were released are an expansion of the previous program that has been in place for the past several years.”
The latest action comes as gas prices have soared, particularly amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but price has been a major barrier to widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles. Harris called standards like the ones announced Tuesday a step toward removing those obstacles to wider ownership.
“Setting these kinds of standards is going to put more electric cars and trucks on the road, which will help to protect drivers ultimately from volatile gas prices, [because] electricity and the transition to electric vehicles can reduce fueling costs for drivers,” she said.
Not every environmental group was as enthusiastic about the proposal, however. In a statement Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity called the rule “inadequate” and said it would be insufficient to achieve the state’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
“There’s no excuse for California to take the slow road to an all-electric future when we’re being gouged at the gas pump and facing epic drought and wildfires,” Scott Hochberg, a transportation attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement. “The nation needs strong rules from California that force auto companies to make the electric vehicles we need. California has to lead on clean cars, or we’ll all be left choking in the dust.”