California Wants to Triple EV Sales in 4 Years

The auto industry questions the feasibility of this goal, while environmentalists call for more aggressive plans.

April 18, 2022

EV Charging at home

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California is aiming to have 35% of all new car purchases be electric, hydrogen-powered or plug-in hybrids by 2026, reports the Associated Press. This goal is one facet of the state’s bigger plan to have all new car sales be electric, hydrogen-powered or plug-in hybrids by 2035.

Currently, 11% of new car sales are in California, because of the state’s significant influence over the auto market, reports AP, and residents would still be allowed to drive, buy and sell used internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles.

California’s plan still needs approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Biden Administration recently allowed the state to set its own vehicle emissions standards under the Clean Air Act once again.

Currently in California, about 1 million of the 26 million cars currently on California roads are zero-emission, and in 2021, 12% of all cars sold in the state were zero-emission.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation said that the industry is “committed to electrification and a net-zero carbon transportation future” but questions the possibility of increasing zero-emission sales so quickly.

“Automakers will certainly work to meet whatever standards are eventually adopted, but these draft requirements will be extremely challenging even in California and may not be achievable in all the states that currently follow California’s program,” the group told AP in a statement.

According to some environmental groups, California’s goals should be more aggressive, arguing heavily polluted communities can’t wait, and that states should make it easier for low-income people to purchase electric vehicles.

“There’s no excuse for California to take the slow road to an all-electric future when we’re being gouged at the gas pump and facing epic drought and wildfires,” Scott Hochberg a transportation attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute told AP.

Last week, the city of Los Angeles announced that it plans to convert its fleet of 10,000 vehicles to electric-powered vehicles by 2035. The move is in line with the LA100 initiative to be 100% carbon-free by 2035.

In Washington state, the governor signed a law last month that would require all new car sales in the state to be electric by 2030, but regulators have until the end of 2023 to explain how the state will meet that goal. New York also aims to phase out gas powered vehicles by 2035.

The Convenience Matters podcast, “Where Do EVs Make the Most Sense?” examines the findings from a Fuels Institute study looking at life-cycle emissions for EVs and fuel-powered vehicles. NACS also has a topics page on electric vehicles.