Cars lined up.
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Even though electric cars aren’t the perfect solution to the world’s problems with transportation and climate change, they are a step towards reducing global emissions. The U.S. state of California has now ruled it will phase out gas-only cars by 2035.

California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed an executive order in 2020 that required the sales of all new passenger vehicles to be “zero-emission” by 2035. The California Air Resources Board approved a plan this week to implement the executive order, which will gradually phase out the sale of new gas-only cars. Starting in 2026, 35% of cars shipped to California by auto companies (Ford, GM, BMW, etc.) must be electric cars or hybrids, with that percentage increasing each year until reaching 100% in 2035.

Chart showing percentage of new vehicles sold rise from 35% in 2026 to 43% in 2027, 51% in 2028, 59% in 2029, etc.
California Air Resources Board

California’s Air Resources Board said in a statement, “by 2037, the regulation delivers a 25% reduction in smog-causing pollution from light-duty vehicles to meet federal air quality standards. This benefits all Californians but especially the state’s most environmentally and economically burdened communities along freeways and other heavily traveled thoroughfares.”

Importantly, the ban doesn’t apply to all vehicles that use gasoline — plug-in hybrid cars (PHEV) are still allowed. Given the rapidly expanding availability of both hybrid cars and electric cars, there likely won’t be many gas-only vehicles in active production by 2035 anyway. The rule also only applies to new car sales (used gas cars can still be sold), and there’s no plan to block any gas cars already on the road.

California attempted a similar rule in the 1990s, which called for 10% of all cars sold in the state to be “zero emission vehicles” by 2003. However, the state backtracked on the ruling, saying all cars on the market at that time fell short on performance and range. Early electric cars, like the General Motors EV-1, used lead acid batteries with short lifespans. Even though modern EVs are much improved, California could still change its plans again — a lot can happen in 13 years.

Source: California Air Resources Board

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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