A new executive order seeks to ban sales of new ICE cars in 15 years.
The US state of California has long tried to be ahead of the curve when it comes to air quality, establishing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 1967 to design and implement mandates relating to emissions.
Now, the state has taken arguably its biggest step yet, announcing Wednesday that residents will no longer be permitted to purchase new passenger vehicles with internal combustion engines past 2035. In a boldly symbolic display, California Governor Gavin Newsom made the announcement standing in front of a collection of EVs in Sacramento, even using the hood of a Ford Mustang Mach-E to pen his signature on the executive order.
If you think it's just individual consumers shouldering the burden of the governor's order, think again; according to Reuters, CARB also plans to mandate that all medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks be emissions-free where possible by the year 2045. But notably, the mandate will not ban ownership of gasoline-powered vehicles in the state, nor will it forbid their sale on the used market; only new car sales are affected.
In moving to ban gas-powered vehicles, California joins more than a dozen countries around the globe that have made similar pledges. It remains to be seen whether the 14 other states that follow CARB rules plan to follow California or revert to mandates set by the EPA.
The news warrants a grain of salt; as Reuters notes, not every goal set by the California Air Resources Board throughout history has stuck to the planned timeline, with many mandates having to be pushed back or reworked. There has also been a fair amount of pushback from the White House, potentially setting the stage for another legal battle over CARB's legitimacy.
If it comes to pass, however, the overall impact on the industry could be massive. California accounts for more than ten percent of all new US car sales, and if the mandate is put in place by CARB, that means even more states - including Colorado, New York, and Maine - likely also shifting entirely over to electric propulsion.
For Tesla, Rivian, and the legacy automakers who have already committed to going all-in on EVs, their gambit is looking pretty clever right about now.