California formally bans the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035

Automakers will only be able to sell zero- and low-emission cars and trucks in the state after that time.

·2 min read
sarawuth702 via Getty Images

The California Air Resources Board has issued a rule (PDF) that formally bans the sale of fully gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. The regulations come two years after Governor Gavin Newsom instructed the agency to develop "passenger vehicle and truck regulations requiring increasing volumes of new zero-emission vehicles sold in the state towards the target of 100 percent of in-state sales by 2035."

The board unanimously approved the rule, which will gradually phase out the sale of combustion-engine vehicles. By 2026, 35 percent of new car sales in the state must be electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids or models with hydrogen fuel cells. That benchmark will rise to 68 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035.

California Air Resources Board chair Liane Randolph said the move will lead to a 50 percent drop in pollution from light trucks and cars by 2040. The state also aims to move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

The rule is likely to prompt similar moves by other states, as CNBC notes — New York and Massachusetts have already passed laws to that effect. California has led the way when it comes to setting strict emissions standards, with at least 15 states adopting its rules.

Many long-standing manufacturers and car brands have already announced plans to fully switch to EVs by 2035. Bentley aims to sell only plug-in hybrids and EVs by 2026. Mercedes and Volvo plan to go fully electric by 2030. GM expects to finalize a similar transition by 2035. Honda has set a target of 2040. Ford, meanwhile, has pledged to fully switch to EVs in Europe by 2030.

This week, Santa Rosa became the largest city in the US to ban the opening of new gas stations, as part of efforts to combat climate change. The city, which is in Sonoma County, has an estimated population of 176,938. The Press Democrat reported that more than half of the county's 486,000 residents now live in a jurisdiction where new gas stations are banned.

Officials in Los Angeles and New York state are considering adopting similar measures. Between that and the ban on gas-powered vehicle sales, maybe one day in the not-too-distant future, the infamous Los Angeles smog will be a thing of the past.