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California regulators vote to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035

There are still some wrinkles to iron out, but regulators hope the move will encourage more drivers to buy battery-electric and hydrogen-electric vehicles.

California regulators voted Thursday to ban the sale of all new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 as the state looks to aggressively tackle the climate crisis.

Cars, trucks and SUVs that run on gasoline are some of the largest producers of carbon emissions that pollute the environment.

California's new rule says 100% of new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 must not emit greenhouse gases. The California Air Resources Board also set an interim goal to have 35% of new cars sold produce zero emissions by 2026, with a 68% goal for 2030.

California to ban sales of all gas-powered cars

  • The measure, which will take effect in 2035, seeks to address the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Regulators also set an interim goal to have 35% of new cars sold produce zero emissions by 2026, with a 68% goal for 2030.
  • Drivers will still be able to operate previously owned gasoline-powered vehicles, as well as buy used gas-powered vehicles.

Drivers will still be able to operate previously owned gasoline-powered vehicles, as well as buy used gas-powered vehicles. The state is also allowing for some new cars sold to be hybrid gas-electric vehicles.

About 16% of cars sold in California in the first three months of this year were electric, according to The Associated Press. Over the past 12 years, California has provided more than $1 billion in rebates for the sale of 478,000 electric, plug-in or hybrid vehicles, the AP said.

Image:  Traffic at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza on Aug. 24, 2022.
Traffic at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza on Aug. 24, 2022.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A critical hurdle the state must overcome to meet the requirements of the new rule is expanding access to electric charging stations. Although the $1 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed last year includes earmarks to build charging stations every 50 miles along interstate highways, the state will have to spend billions more to build a fully reliable charging network. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he hopes to make adding stations in low-income neighborhoods a priority.

“The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” Newsom said Wednesday. 

The ban was passed as the reliability of electric grids comes into renewed focus amid unprecedented weather events. Still, the precedent set by California is likely to be followed by other states.