New York to Ban New Gas-Powered Vehicle Sales by 2035

The state is following California’s rule passed last month, while Toyota’s CEO is skeptical on rate of consumer EV adoption.

October 03, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Following in California’s footsteps, New York will require all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric vehicles by 2035, reports the Wall Street Journal. The requirements would apply to all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. New York officials say the effort is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the sale of EVs.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had announced the initiative last year, but she said the state couldn’t move forward with the plan until California implemented the same regulation. Last month, the California Air Resources Board passed a plan that requires all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the state to be electric vehicles or plug-in electric hybrids by 2035.

“We had to wait for California to take a step because there’s some federal requirement California had to go first,” she said at a press conference Thursday.

The governor is directing the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to implement the regulations, which will be filed by the end of the year.

California is allowed to have more stringent rules under the federal Clean Air Act, and other states can choose to adopt the rules. According to the Associated Press, 17 states have adopted some or all of California’s emission standards, which are stricter than federal rules.

Like California, New York is implementing a phased approach to the new plan. By 2026, 35% of new cars and trucks sold in the state must be zero-emission, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered vehicles, and the benchmarks rise to 68% in 2030 and 100% by 2035. There are grants available to New York towns and cities to help them purchase zero-emission vehicles for their fleets and help them build electric-vehicle charging stations.

In May, NACS filed a petition in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s grant of a waiver that would allow California to impose a zero-emission vehicle mandate and related limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our members are accelerating investments in electric vehicle chargers to serve that market, but different states setting technology mandates will not work,” said Doug Kantor, NACS general counsel. “The track record of policymakers deciding what technologies will be best for future Americans is a poor one.”

Challenges for California’s ban on gas cars include whether consumers in the state embrace zero-emission vehicles and how quickly vehicle manufacturers can produce these types of vehicles. There are also legal challenges that could hinder the policy, and some experts say these challenges have a chance of success.

What’s more, the EV charging infrastructure in the state can’t currently handle the policy, and researchers at University of California, Davis, estimate that 1.9 million additional public chargers would be needed by 2035.

According to Toyota Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda, EVs “are just going to take longer than the media would like us to believe,” Bloomberg reports. The CEO said the company will offer “widest possible” of powertrains to propel cars cleanly. “That’s our strategy and we’re sticking to it,” he said.

Toyota is keeping gas-powered vehicles a staple in its lineup, contrasting other rival carmakers that are going fully electric with their fleets. However, the company is offering more EVs in the coming years, but it will also offer a range of other options, including gasoline-electric hybrids, as well as hydrogen- and gas-powered models.

Environmentalists and shareholders are critical of Toyota’s soft stance on EVs, accusing the company of clinging to its 25-year history with the gasoline-electric Prius hybrid, which Toyota was once lauded for.

“The fact is: a hybrid today is not green technology,” Katherine Garcia, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation For All campaign, wrote in a blog post last month. “The Prius hybrid runs on a pollution-emitting combustion engine found in any gas-powered car.”

But Toyota is investing in an EV future. The company will spend 4 trillion yen, or $28 billion, to roll out 30 EVs by 2030. Ford, in comparison, is investing $50 billion in its EV initiatives.

“Our investments may appear smaller than others’, but when you look at what Toyota has been doing over the last 20 years, the total amount might not necessarily be small,” Toyoda said.

Toyoda believes that EV adoption rates will be muted due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure, which is one reason why the company is not committing to an all-EV future. Additionally, the CEO is skeptical that automakers will be able to comply with California’s ban on gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035.

“We have to look at the current price range and infrastructure availability and at what pace they’re going to be upgrading,” he said. “Realistically speaking, it seems rather difficult to achieve.”