California puts its foot down, mandates 100% new ZEV sales in state by 2035

According to the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (CARB), 80 percent of all of the state’s air-pollutant emissions and around half of all greenhouse-gas emissions (if those from the production of motor vehicle fuels are included) are emitted from the transportation sector. Yeah, 50 percent of all state-emitted GHG emissions is a significant amount, don’t get me wrong. But, a whopping 80 percent of California’s total air-pollutant emissions being transportation-driven?! That’s huge!

Though ginormous, it’s far from shocking. Okay, so think about it: 40 million people make the Golden State their home. More than half drive an estimated 30 million light-duty cars, trucks and SUVs, some 90 percent or 27 million of these being gasoline and diesel driven. Meanwhile, filling out the remainder of California transportation is assorted commercial and delivery vehicles, various construction and earthmoving equipment, as well as a whole host of big-rig transport, watercraft, aircraft and trains and miscellaneous other automatically propelled conveyances, nearly all of those in the aggregate contributing a substantial amount of pollutant and GHG emissions to the state’s air.

Make no mistake: The CARB takes the cleanup of the state’s air and reducing both air-pollutant and GHG emissions seriously. Which is why it should come as no surprise then that the agency has instituted a new rule to make all new cars sold in California by the year 2035 being exclusively zero-emissions and some combination of electricity and internal combustion, as would be the case with a plug-in hybrid.

Here’s how the program will roll out.

“The new regulation accelerates requirements that automakers deliver an increasing number of zero-emission light-duty vehicles each year beginning in model year 2026. Sales of new ZEVs and PHEVs will start with 35% that year, build to 68% in 2030, and reach 100% in 2035,” CARB reported in its “California moves to accelerate to 100% new zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035: CARB approves first-in-nation ZEV regulation that will clean the air, slash climate pollution, and save consumers money” Aug. 25, 2022 news release.

“By model year 2030, the rules require the vehicle to maintain at least 80% of electric range for 10 years or 150,000 miles. (Phased in from 70% for 2026 through 2029 model year vehicles.) By model year 2031, individual vehicle battery packs are warranted to maintain 75% of their energy for eight years or 100,000 miles. (Phased in from 70% for 2026 through 2030 model years.) ZEV powertrain components are warranted for at least three years or 50,000 miles,” the CARB further stressed.

This is an enormous step toward helping bring considerable reduction in air-pollutant emissions and climate pollution in the state of California coming from transportation.

“The ACC II regulation is phase two of the Advanced Clean Cars Program, originally adopted by CARB in 2012,” the agency added. “The regulation was designed to bring together CARB’s passenger vehicle requirements to meet federal air quality standards and also support California’s AB 32 [California Assembly Bill 32: The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006] statute to develop and implement programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020, a goal achieved in 2016 as a result of numerous greenhouse gas emissions mitigation programs.

“The ACC II regulation is a major tool in the effort to reach the SB 32 target of reducing greenhouse gases an additional 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, while also achieving Governor Newsom’s 2035 target for ending sales of new internal combustion engine passenger vehicles. Ending sales of vehicles powered by fossil fuels is a critical element in the state’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner,” the CARB in the news release in question related.

So what kind of impact is this likely to have on the then-existing situation at the time of the cutover of the new regulatory scheme?

As the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board so indicated, “As with the original Advanced Clean Cars rules, ACC II includes updated regulations for light- and medium-duty internal combustion engine vehicles as well, to mitigate the air quality impacts from conventional vehicles. These low-emission vehicle standards help deliver real-world emission benefits that complement more significant emission reductions gained by wider ZEV deployment. This will prevent potential emission backsliding by removing ZEVs from the emissions baseline used to calculate new vehicle fleet-average emissions. The regulation also reduces the allowable exhaust emissions under more real-world driving conditions and emissions caused by evaporation.”

– Alan Kandel

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