What to Know About California’s Ban on New Gasoline-Powered Cars

The Rivian Service Center in El Segundo.Credit…Alex Welsh for The New York Times

California made history late last week when its regulators approved an ambitious plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in the state.

While governments around the world have tried to incentivize consumers to purchase electric vehicles and encourage automakers to produce more of them, the Golden State opted for a far more stringent approach.

The California Air Resources Board on Thursday signed off on a sweeping plan requiring that by 2035, all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the state be electric vehicles or other emissions-free models.

Given that California is the nation’s largest auto market and that other states often follow our lead, the new rule could become “one of the world’s most important climate change policies,” my colleagues Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer explained.

“This regulation will set the global high-water mark for the accelerated transition to electric vehicles,” Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a research organization, told my colleagues.

Today I’ll walk you through the details of California’s target and how it could play out here and across the country.

What exactly are California regulators calling for?

Currently, about 16 percent of all new car sales in California are zero-emission vehicles. The new rule requires that 35 percent of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in California be either zero-emission, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered models by 2026.

Those benchmarks rise to 68 percent in 2030, and 100 percent in 2035.

The rule doesn’t force California’s car shoppers to buy these vehicles, but instead creates fines for automakers who fail to comply with the targets. The penalties are high enough that experts believe automakers will go along with the new mandates, as my colleagues recently explained in an article about the ban’s biggest challenges.

“California is good at enforcing its rules,” Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity, told them. “Companies at their peril violate those rules.”

Will I have to give up my car?

The rules apply only to the sales of new cars, so you can keep your gas-guzzler. You can also continue to buy or sell used gasoline-powered cars after 2035.

What impact will the new rules have?

Currently, transportation is the single largest source of emissions in California and accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

State regulators estimate that the new rules will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by more than 50 percent in 2040 from the levels that were expected without the policy. That amounts to eliminating 395 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over that time period, or the equivalent of burning 915 million barrels of oil, according to Liane Randolph, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

Those benefits could spread if other governments are inspired by California’s bold move. More on that below.

Will other states follow suit?

Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is allowed to set tougher emissions standards than the federal government. In recent years, more than a dozen other states (including New York, Massachusetts and Washington) have followed California’s rules too.

Together with California, these states — many of which have already signaled they will also adopt the 2035 ban on internal combustion engines — account for one third of the American auto market.

“This is huge,” said Margo Oge, an electric vehicles expert who led the Environmental Protection Agency’s transportation emissions program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As additional states put in place their own versions of these policies, “they will drive the market, and drive innovation,” she told The Times.

In the words of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the ban is “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it.”

“Our kids are going to act like it’s a rotary phone, or changing the channel on a television,” Newsom said in an interview with my colleagues.

For more:

  • Even before California regulators adopted the ban, automakers were setting increasingly aggressive targets for exclusively electric product lines.

  • Over time, electric cars are better for your budget.

  • How to reduce your carbon footprint.

San Francisco’s summer fog and cool breezes are created by a complex interaction between the atmosphere and ocean.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

If you read one story, make it this

In a time of punishing heat waves, San Francisco is reassessing what was once seen as a liability: its cold summers.

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference in San Francisco in May.Credit…Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The rest of the news

  • Supreme Court appointee: Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint Judge Kelli Evans to the California Supreme Court. Evans will be the first openly lesbian justice, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Fast-food bill: A bill that would set minimum standards for fast-food workers for wages and hours awaits final action before the California Legislature adjourns on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports.

  • Abortion: Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a policy that would allow California to spend public money on out-of-state travel to bring women from other states to its abortion clinics, The Associated Press reports.


  • Matt Araiza: The Buffalo Bills announced they have released punter Matt Araiza, after a lawsuit accused him and two other San Diego State University football players of raping a 17-year-old girl at an off campus party, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Wildlife corridor: The city of Rancho Palos Verdes and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy began a fund-raising campaign to create a new wildlife corridor, City News Service reports.


  • Bakersfield musician: Larry Petree, a longtime Bakersfield steel guitar player, and his wife, Betty, were recently found dead in a remote stretch of desert east of California City, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Facebook lawsuit: Meta Platforms has reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit that accused Facebook of allowing millions of users’ personal data to be fed to Cambridge Analytica, a firm that supported Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, The Associated Press reports.

  • Oakland homeless camp: A federal judge ruled on Friday that Caltrans can move forward with evicting 200 people from the Bay Area’s largest homeless camp, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Credit…Beth Coller for The New York Times

What you get

When Los Angeles slipped out of her budget, she looked east for more space. Which home did she choose?

Credit…Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

What we’re eating

Vegan dan dan noodles with eggplant.

The U.C. Davis campus.Credit…Tommy Ly for The New York Times

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Phoenix Kanada:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Tell us

Californians: Have growing concerns about climate change affected how you live your life? Have you made any changes? If so, we want to hear about them. (Are you driving less, eating differently or changing your job?)

Email us at [email protected]. Please include your name and the city you live in.

This is part of a live event that The Times is hosting in San Francisco on Oct. 12 examining our collective response to the climate challenge. Learn more.

Credit…Angel Franco/The New York Times

And before you go, some good news

On his way home from work, Chad Fry stopped by a liquor store in Auburn to pick up some beer. He had just received a long-awaited payment from a construction job last year, so he decided to buy a lottery ticket too.

“I had been waiting months for these people to pay me! So I had a little extra money. When I was at the counter, it grabbed my eye, so I said, ‘Give me that $30 ticket,’ and that was it,” Fry said in a statement.

The ticket ended up being a lucky one. Fry took home a $20 million jackpot and became the largest cash prize winner on a scratch-off ticket in state history.

Thanks for starting your week with me. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Boats like Noah’s (4 letters).

Allison Honors, Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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