The beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine vehicle?

“The new policy, detailed Wednesday morning at a press conference, is expected to greatly accelerate the global transition to electric vehicles,” reported Davenport Coral, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plume for The New York Times on August 24.

“The rule lays out a year-by-year roadmap so that by 2035, 100% of new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” Aug. 25 states. Press release speak California Air Resources Council (CARB), regulators tasked with improving the the worst air quality in the country and enact regulations to meet the state’s rigorous greenhouse gas reduction standards.

The regulations achieve and codify the light-duty vehicle objectives set out in Governor Newsom’s Executive Order Executive Order N-79-20.

[Related post: Gone by 2035: Gas-Powered Car Sales Have an Expiration Date in California, September 24, 2020]

What happens in California doesn’t stay there

“Not only is California the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states generally follow California’s lead when setting their own auto emissions standards,” Davenport adds, Friedman and Plumer.

Known as Section 177 states for that section of the U.S. Clean Air Act that deals with tailpipe emissions, all but two states can adopt California Zero Emission Vehicle Program. [See related tag.]

If those states follow through and most are expected to adopt similar rules, the restrictions would apply to about a third of the US auto market.

“It’s huge,” said Margo Oge, an electric vehicle expert who led the Environmental Protection Agency’s transportation emissions program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As more states implement their own versions of these policies, “they will drive the market and drive innovation,” she said.

Upcoming Power Grid Challenge

Appearing on CNN Saturday morning, anchorage Amara Walker Oge asked:

“I’m sure you’re hearing… experts say that California’s infrastructure isn’t ready to handle an influx of electric cars, especially with a power grid already strained by record heat. What about are there significant investments in grid infrastructure, because you’re now going to have millions of battery electric vehicles or even fuel cells on the roads?”

Oge acknowledged the existing tension that has prompted Governor Newsom to consider extending the life of the state’s only remaining nuclear plant that was scheduled to close in 2025 and four older natural gas plants.

“What I hear from the experts is not so much the number of electric cars that will be charged daily, but rather the time of day that those charges will take place,” Oge replied.

“For example, I live in Los Angeles, and Southern California Edison gave me a good rate if I charged my car any time of the day except 4:00-9:00. So to me, it’s like the equivalent of spending $2 on gas…”

[Average price of gasoline in California on Aug. 28: $5.28 per gallon.]

What about the app?

What if auto consumers don’t cooperate? Friedman and Plumer of The Times wrote on August 26 that the plan sets “strict limits on what automakers can and cannot sell. Failure to meet these targets carries the threat of severe penalties.”

Targets, by CARB“The new regulations accelerate requirements for automakers to deliver an increasing number of zero-emission light-duty vehicles each year from model year 2026. Sales of new ZEVs and PHEVs will start at 35% that year, to reach 68% in 2030, and reach 100% in 2035.”

“If automakers fail to comply, they will be fined $20,000 for each new vehicle sold in violation of the targets,” Friedman and Plumer add.

Since that amount far exceeds the profit margin of the typical passenger vehicle, companies are unlikely to choose to pay the penalty, experts said.

“California is good at enforcing its rules,” said Dan Becker, Director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Companies, at their peril, violate these rules.”

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