California To Ban the Sale of Gas-Powered Cars in 2035

Better late than never.

Tesla Model 3

 Getty Images

Governor Gavin Newsom of California has announced an executive order requiring all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035. The press release notes:

"The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions...
'This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,' said Governor Newsom. 'For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.'

We might complain about a couple of things, starting with the use of the word "impactful" and then pointing out that a lot of countries are doing this even more quickly, with Israel, Iceland, and Germany aiming for 2030. Even the UK is pushing its deadline forward to 2030.

2030 is also the year by which the IPCC says we have to cut our CO2 emissions in half to keep climate warming under an average of 1.5°C, so there was some symbolism to the date.

The attacks on Newsom came quickly on Twitter, complaining that the grid can't support it, even though the batteries in electric cars could help store power and stabilize the grid; or that people need a full tank of gas to evacuate in a forest fire, even though the point of this ban is to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that are causing climate change that makes the fires and other disasters worse. Others complain about the lack of charging infrastructure, even though most people charge their cars at home, at night with cheaper power, and the only time you would ever need charging infrastructure is if you were doing a road trip.

But for all the complaints, the fact is that the change is happening whether there is a ban on gasoline cars or not. Every person I have ever met who has an electric car tells me how wonderful they are, how cheap they are to operate, and how easy they are to maintain. The big problem with electric cars to date has been the cost, but Elon Musk just promised cheap batteries and a $25,000 car in three years, and even if he is late as usual, it's coming.

I suspect that in 10 years, not 15, it will be the people in gas-powered cars lining up for hours at the few gas stations left in the state, the demand just won't be there to keep them open.

Not Everybody Is Excited About This

Subaru ad selling fresh air
 Subaru

There are many who are not getting with the program. The White House complains that "this is yet another example of how extreme the left has become. They want the government to dictate every aspect of every Americans’ life, and the lengths to which they will go to destroy jobs and raise costs on the consumer is alarming. President Trump won’t stand for it."

Others just ignore it. Subaru advertises about fresh air, but in fact, they embrace opportunities offered by climate change and sell climate crisis getaway cars. From their "Approach to Climate Change" statement:

"On the other hand, AWD, [all wheel drive] which is a major strategic vehicle 90% of which Subaru is introducing to the market, has a great opportunity to cope with recent climate change, compared to FW and FR automobiles of 2WD. The main reason for this is that traveling stability unique to AWD is very good compared to 2WD on rough road after torrential rain and snowy road surface due to heavy snowfall. There is a possibility that the recognition that it is an automobile that can run safely and with peace of mind expands and leads to an increase in sales opportunities."

But I Thought Electric Cars Won't Save Us

I know, I have written that many times, as recently as yesterday. I still believe that we need fewer cars and more walkable and bikeable communities. But if we are going to have cars, they should be electric. And this is the way the market is going anyway, no matter what the Presidents of the USA or Subaru wish for.