California proposal calls for EVs to make up nearly 70 percent of new-vehicle sales by 2030

WASHINGTON — California is calling for zero-emission vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, to make up nearly 70 percent of new-vehicle sales by 2030, as part of an aggressive timeline set by the state to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks and achieve 100 percent ZEV sales by the 2035 model year.

The ambitious proposal released Wednesday by the California Air Resources Board comes after the EPA in March reissued a waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing California to set its own auto tailpipe rules and ZEV mandates, subsequently reversing a Trump-era rule that sought to block states from doing so.

The plan would require ZEVs and plug-in hybrids to make up 35 percent of new-vehicle sales by the 2026 model year, 68 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. ZEVs made up 12.4 percent of California’s new-vehicle market share in 2021, according to CARB.

The proposed regulations are estimated to cost automakers $30.2 billion between 2026 and 2040, or $2 billion on average per year, according to CARB’s analysis.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, representing most major automakers in the U.S., said California’s plan requires “aggressive increases in EV sales,” and the industry’s transformation to electrification will require commitment from federal, state and local governments.

“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 said.

For consumers, CARB said the initial savings are “nearly immediate” and cumulative savings over 10 years exceed $7,500 for the 2035 model year.

Between 2026 and 2040, the board estimates the regulations will result in 1,272 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths, 208 fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular illness, 249 fewer hospital admissions for respiratory illness and 639 fewer emergency room visits for asthma across the state.

Additionally, CARB said the regulations will reduce overall costs for transportation in the state, and between 2026 and 2040, the total impact is estimated to be a net cost-savings of $81.8 billion, or $5.9 billion on average per year.

California’s proposed standards to curb vehicle greenhouse gas emissions are more stringent than those finalized by the EPA in December — something the state is allowed to do because of the reinstated waiver. Once adopted by the state’s Air Resources Board, the regulations must be approved by the EPA.

CARB is holding a public hearing June 9 to consider its proposal.

Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia follow California’s stricter vehicle emissions standards, representing more than one-third of all light-vehicle sales in the U.S. At least 15 states follow California’s ZEV program.

The state’s proposal is higher than President Joe Biden’s nonbinding target to reach 50 percent new ZEV sales by the end of the decade.

Biden in December signed an executive order to transition the federal vehicle fleet to zero-emission by 2035. The president has not mandated a phaseout for the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks.