California plan aims to triple electric car sales by 2026

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California wants electric vehicle sales to triple over the next four years to 35% of all new car purchases, an ambitious goal set as part of the goal to phase out the sale of gasoline cars by the middle of the next decade.

The California Air Resources Board’s proposal would slowly increase the sale of new electric, hydrogen or plug-in hybrid cars to 100% by 2035. About 11% of all new passenger car sales nationwide occur in California, which gives the state a significant influence on the automobile market. Californians would still be allowed to drive gas-powered cars and sell used cars, which means global warming emissions will continue to spew onto the state’s roads.

The hoped-for boom in electric vehicle sales will also require a significant increase in charging stations. California has set a goal of 250,000 charging stations by 2025, and currently there are less than 80,000 stations in public spaces or in the parking lots of office buildings, residential buildings, and more. apartments and other shared spaces. Last year, the California Energy Commission approved spending $314 million over three years on passenger car charging stations and Newsom added more in its proposed state budget.

The release kicks off a months-long state review process and the plan requires approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The state is unlikely to face resistance from a Democratic White House. The Biden administration recently restored California’s power to set its own vehicle emissions standards under the Clean Air Act and the president committed $5 billion to build more charging stations across the country.

A group representing the automotive industry said meeting the requirements would be “extremely difficult”.

Passenger vehicles contribute about a quarter of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions — more than any other single source, according to the air board. The program is part of California’s effort to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Between 2026 and 2040, state experts estimate the program would reduce emissions by nearly 384 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That’s a little less than all of the California economy’s emissions in a single year.

Elsewhere, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation last month setting a goal to require all new vehicles in the state to be electric by 2030, but regulators have until the end of 2023 to say how the state will get there.

California rules would require that 35% of new car sales for the 2026 model year be zero-emission vehicles, including battery or hydrogen vehicles, or plug-in electric hybrids. That’s a big increase from 2021, when about 12% of all cars sold in the state were zero-emissions, according to the Air Board. About 1 million of the 26 million cars currently on California’s roads are zero-emissions.

This requirement increases to 100% of all new sales by 2035. Up to 20% of sales by 2035 could be plug-in hybrids that run on a combination of battery and gasoline, although regulations increases the extent to which these cars must be able to travel solely on battery power.

Automakers including Ford and Toyota turned to the Automotive Innovation Alliance for a statement on the proposal. The group says the industry is “committed to electrification and a net-zero carbon transport future”, but raised questions about the drastic increase in sales of zero-emission vehicles required.

“Automakers will certainly strive to meet any standards that may be adopted, but these draft requirements will be extremely difficult, even in California, and may not be feasible in all states that currently follow the California program,” said the band.

Nine states are following California’s current zero-emission vehicle rules, which set rules through the 2025 model year, and five states plan to join them in future years. If the federal government approves California’s new plan, other states will have to decide whether to follow suit. New York also aims to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

Regulations also require electric vehicles to travel at least 150 miles (241 kilometers) per charge, compared to 50 miles (80 kilometers), although most manufacturers exceed this limit. They establish a battery warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers).

The 17 automakers selling in California would be required to hit the 35% sales mark. But there is wiggle room. California’s existing electric vehicle standards allow companies to save credits if they sell a higher percentage of electric cars than necessary, and those credits can be used later to meet sales goals.

Businesses can also make agreements with each other to count each other’s sales as their own. Electric vehicle maker Tesla has entered into such agreements with many automakers in the past, state officials said.

Some environmental groups have said the state should set an even more aggressive timeline, arguing that heavily polluted communities can’t wait and make it easier for low-income people to buy electric vehicles.

“There’s no excuse for California to take the slow road to an all-electric future as we’re knackered at the gas pump and faced with epic drought and wildfires,” said attorney Scott Hochberg. specialized in transport for the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity. .

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Associated Press reporter Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed.

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