If you haven’t heard it already, the California Air and Resources Board (CARB) approved a monumental settlement last week. By 2035, all California automakers will no longer be able to sell vehicles powered solely by internal combustion engines (ICE). This means that in just twelve years you will not be able to buy a new car with a gasoline engine.
These unprecedented regulations were first introduced in 2020 by Governor Gavin Newsom, to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions. This revolutionary news reverberates throughout the country with polarized opinions. There are many questions, concerns and doubts as the world prepares for the impending transition to an all-electric (EV) future.
When a big change is looming, there are always early adopters and there are always skeptics. The reality is that electric cars are coming just like winter was coming in Game of Thrones. California is preparing to lead the charge as the first state to show the rest of the world that a future for electric vehicles is imminent.
Is there enough infrastructure to support electric vehicles
The argument you hear most often is how the California power grid will handle the influx of electric vehicles on its roads. The most populous state in the United States with nearly 40 million people is already struggling with an energy problem. Besides water, energy is another scarce resource that Californians are subject to conservation to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by electrical infrastructure.
Californians are already familiar with reducing energy consumption for the good of their state. For example, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) rewards its customers with energy-saving bill credits. They reward residents who use less electricity during the summer months between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Participants earn a $2 incentive for every kilowatt (kW) saved. Expect California to introduce similar incentive programs that encourage energy conservation across the state.
Impact on classic cars by the ban
To be clear, the ban only affects the sale of new cars sold; it will have no impact on existing cars. Smog has been a major problem in California for decades, creating increasingly stringent emissions testing across the state. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, smog is that dark-colored soot that you sometimes see hovering like clouds in the Los Angeles sky.
It is caused by the mixing of air pollutants with the exhaust from ICE cars as well as other places that burn fossil fuels. Automobiles made after 1975 must pass rigorous smog tests every two years to be registered in California. The California Air and Resources Board has continued to tighten these regulations, making it harder for gas-powered cars to stay on today’s roads.
Other states have followed suit and implemented similar emissions testing to achieve cleaner air quality for their residents. CARB’s goal is to achieve zero emissions, which means that smog tests will become increasingly difficult to pass. This could be disastrous for collectors living in the state known as the classic car capital of the world.
California can implement a rule similar to the 1975 rule, where registered classics can be grandfathered and unaffected by more rigorous smog testing. This would keep classic car collectors happy and prevent owners from registering their vehicles in other states; ultimately losing money in California.
Fewer ICE cars will naturally exist due to attrition, those that survive will only become more valuable over time. As supply decreases, demand increases, which means you should start thinking about buying a classic before it’s too late.
Still a long way to go towards an all-electric future
There is always a period of transition with everything in life, especially when it comes to transportation. At the turn of the 19th century, most families who traveled by horse and carriage were hesitant to buy a steam car. Later, when the internal combustion engine was invented, there were certainly more skeptics than early adopters.
The ban on ICE cars will be phased in, requiring 35% of new car sales to be electric by 2026, 50% by 2028 and 100% by 2035. The shift to an all-electric future will force motorists to see d first the benefits of an EV without having to sacrifice much. To help win over many worried future customers, manufacturers can sell 20% of their range as plug-in hybrids.
By 2035, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will need to increase their battery capacity, as most PHEVs only go about 30 miles on a single charge. PHEVs are a great way to bridge the gap for new car buyers who want to continue using ICE cars while enjoying the benefits of an electric vehicle. The average cost of an electric vehicle in California is $66,000. If California expects every new car it buys to be an electric vehicle; then EVs will have to be affordable.
Fisker, an EV startup, has unveiled its electric crossover, the Ocean, starting at $37,500. Fisker’s first SUV will go into production by the end of this year. It will be equipped with all the latest technologies (including California mode) and will have a range of up to 350 miles. Innovation will make it possible to offer electric vehicles at more affordable prices, remember the price of desktop computers in the 90s?
Thanks to the catalytic converter, most modern cars have been able to significantly reduce their carbon emissions. However, California has now set the standard for a zero emissions future. Hopefully, by 2035, Golden State enthusiasts will still be able to enjoy their outdated gas-powered vehicles.
Sources: California Air and Resources Board, Fisker, General Motors