California’s plan aims to triple electric car sales by 2026

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – California wants electric car sales to triple over the next four years to 35% of all new car purchases, an aggressive target set as part of the goal of phasing out gas-powered car sales by the middle of Next decade.

California Air Resources Board’s proposal will slowly raise sales of new cars that are electric, hydrogen or plug-in hybrids to 100% by 2035. About 11% of all sales of new passenger cars nationally occur in California, giving the state significantly influence in the car market. Californians will still be allowed to drive gasoline-powered cars and sell used ones, meaning emissions that heat the planet will still squirt out of state roads.

The hoped-for boost in electric car sales will also require a larger increase in charging stations. California has set a goal of 250,000 charging stations by 2025, and right now there are fewer than 80,000 stations in public spaces or in parking lots at office buildings, apartment buildings and other common areas. The California Energy Commission last year approved spending $ 314 million over three years on charging stations for passenger cars, and Newsom added more to its proposed state budget.

The release starts a month-long state review process, and the plan requires approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The state is unlikely to face opposition 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 has committed $ 5 billion to build more charging stations around the country.

A group representing the automotive industry said it would be “extremely challenging to meet the requirements.”

Passenger cars contribute about a quarter of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions – more than any other single source, according to the Air Force. The program is part of California’s efforts to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. Between 2026 and 2040, government experts estimate that the program will reduce emissions by nearly 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That’s a little less than all the emissions in California’s economy in a single year.

Elsewhere, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a law last month setting a goal of requiring 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 35% of new car sales for the 2026 model year to be zero-emission vehicles, including battery- or hydrogen-powered or plug-in electric hybrids. That is a sharp increase from 2021, when about 12% of all cars sold in the state were zero-emission, according to the Air Force. About 1 million of the 26 million cars currently on the road in California are zero-emission.

This requirement increases up to 100% of all new sales in 2035. Up to 20% of sales in 2035 may be plug-in hybrids running on a combination of battery and gas, although the rules increase how far such cars should be able to travel on battery alone.

Automakers, including Ford and Toyota, approached the Alliance for Automotive Innovation for an opinion 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 the required zero-emission sales of vehicles.

“Automakers will certainly work to meet the standards that will eventually be adopted, but these draft requirements will be extremely challenging even in California and may not be achievable in all of the states currently following California’s program,” he said. said the group.

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

The rules also require electric vehicles to drive at least 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour. charging, up from 50 miles (80 kilometers), although most manufacturers exceed it. They establish an eight-year or 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers) battery warranty.

All 17 automakers selling in California must hit the 35% sales mark. But there is swaying space. California’s existing electric car standards allow companies to save credits if they sell a higher percentage of electric cars than required, and those credits can be used later to reach sales targets.

Companies can also enter into agreements with each other to count each other’s sales as their own. Electric carmaker Tesla has previously entered into such agreements with many automakers, government officials said.

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

“There’s no excuse for California to take the slow path to an all-electric future when we are eroded by the gas pump and face epic droughts and forest fires,” said Scott Hochberg, transportation attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

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Associated Press journalist Tom Krisher of Detroit contributed.

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This story was first published on April 13, 2022. It was updated on April 14, 2022 to correct the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents that are expected to be eliminated by the rules. This figure is 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2026 to 2040, not the amount that will be saved annually.

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