The state of California is pushing consumers away from gas-guzzling cars, but it’s unclear whether the infrastructure necessary for an EV world will be in place by 2035.

Last month the California Air Resources Board, with support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, approved groundbreaking regulations prohibiting the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. It was a shift toward clean energy that advocates hope will put a dent in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The law puts the final stamp on Newsom's executive order two years ago. Automakers will have to electrify their new cars, beginning with 35 percent of models sold in 2026, 68 percent of models in 2030, and 100 percent for 2035 models. In 2022, nearly 16 percent of all new car sales in California are zero-emission, meaning electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles, double the number of cars from two years ago, according to the California Energy Commission.

Automakers could be fined $20,000 per car they fail to produce, and they can get credits from other manufacturers that already meet EV targets. The mandate requires electric cars to have a range of at least 150 miles on a single charge. The law won’t affect used car sales or the gas-powered cars already on the roads, nor does it apply to motorcycles or big-rig trucks. Automakers can still sell new hybrids, which run on gas and electricity. 

Passenger vehicles are the state’s largest source of air pollution, about 29 percent of all California emissions. State air regulators say that lowering that percentage is critical for the state to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Experts believe the rule will cut passenger vehicle emissions by more than half by 2040. That’s around 395 million fewer metric tons of greenhouse gasses, which equates to not burning 915 million barrels of gasoline.

Roughly 9.5 percent of new cars sold in California last year were fully electric, according to the New Car Dealers Association. In 2020 that figure was about 6 percent. California already dominates the country’s plug-in market with 1.13 million, or 43 percent of the total, according to the California Energy Commission. There are roughly 2.64 million nationwide.

However, there are concerns that new electric cars are too expensive for many drivers. The cost of new electric cars can range from $25,000 to $180,000, according to PG&E. On average they cost $66,997, according to Kelley Blue book. With high demand, inflation, microchip shortages and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, EV prices can rise by $10,000, or even $15,000, according to reports. 

The state has several incentives and rebate programs, but many people say they have dealt with long wait lists or don’t receive sufficient funds, according to a report from CalMatters. Air Resources Board data shows that California has allocated more than $1.84 billion to three programs, Clean Cars 4 All Program, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, since 2010. That has led to about half a million state residents receiving grants or rebates for buying cleaner cars or replacing gas cars. All have income limits and award between $7,000 to $9,500 to buy an electric car, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project takes most of the state funding, and has distributed 478,364 rebates. 

Air board officials believe that EV costs will be near or equal to a gas car's price as early as 2030 as technology improves and supplies grow. The board noted that the high up-front cost can eventually be offset by savings on maintenance and gas. California pays the highest gas prices in the county. 

Drivers should get more financial aid through the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last month. The legislation is being hailed as a sweeping climate bill that pours billions into renewable energy projects. It includes electric vehicle tax incentives that could offer up to $7,500 in rebates for electric vehicles and $4,000 for a used one. California’s budget this fiscal year has a record $10 billion for EV subsidies and projects over the next five years. 

Around 7.5 million electric passenger cars are expected to be on California roads by 2030. But there aren’t nearly enough public charging stations available. California has about 80,000 public stations, mostly in urban coastal zones, and the state will need to hit 1.2 million in the next eight years, according to the California Energy Commission.

Pacifica has 12 public charging stations, while Half Moon Bay has 22, including one for Teslas. Eight plugs are at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Last year the Half Moon Bay City Council adopted an ordinance that became effective in July that expands requirements to increase electric vehicle charging stations in new residential buildings. 

The law also burdens the state’s increasingly strained power grid. Widespread heat waves, like the one in the Bay Area last week, can potentially damage electrical equipment or cause planned shutdowns, leading to local outages. At times, PG&E recommended conserving energy and only charging electric vehicles after 9 p.m. 

But data shows that EVs are likely not overtaxing the grid. According to a consumer data forecast from the California Energy Commission, EV charging accounts for only about 0.4 percent of the overall energy load during peak hours in the summer from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., when the grid is most at

risk. Instead, users charge when the rate is cheaper. The Energy Commission’s data shows that EV charging is greatest at 12 a.m. and accounts for 2.3 percent of the power load.

However, experts say California needs a more reliable grid run on renewable energy like solar and wind. California's electricity consumption is expected to jump by as much as 68 percent by 2045.

Recommended For You

Originally published on hmbreview.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.