California Could Ban Gasoline-Fueled Car Sales by 2040

By: Ryan Gallagher January 19, 2018
To combat vehicle emissions, a California lawmaker is proposing a ban on new combustion engine vehicle sales by 2040.
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New legislation in California could drastically change the state’s roadways in the years to come—the recently proposed bill would end California combustion engine car sales by 2040.

On Jan. 3, California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1745, or the Clean Cars 2040 Act, which would bar the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from registering new combustion engine vehicles after January 1, 2040. If the bill passes, zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) would make up 100% of all private passenger vehicle sales.

The Clean Cars 2040 Act defines a zero-emission car as not producing “exhaust emissions of any criteria pollutant . . . or greenhouse gas . . . under any possible operating modes or conditions.” The bill does not apply to commercial vehicles larger than 10,000 pounds or cars purchased by drivers who moved to California from another state.

February 3, 2018 is the earliest date that any Senate or House committee would vote upon Ting’s bill. If the bill does make its way to California Governor Jerry Brown, his colleagues speculate that he would support the legislation. Foreign governments that have planned combustion bans—like China, France, the United Kingdom, and India—are said to have influenced his thinking.

“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” reported Bloomberg after an interview with the Chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols. “The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can [phase out the combustion engine] and not California.”

In the last decade, California has taken strides to make its streets more environmentally friendly. State regulators have set goals to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, and aim to put 1.5 million ZEVs on roadways by 2025. 

Though California currently leads the nation in ZEV sales, progress has been slow, jeopardizing state legislators’ goals for greener roads. To date, California residents have bought slightly more than 300,000 ZEVs since 2011, and in 2017, ZEV sales accounted for less than 5% of all California car sales.

“It’s time that we clear the path for emissions-free transportation and take significant steps to achieve our ambitious emissions reduction goals,” Ting said. “Achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet.”

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