California Adopts Roadmap for Reaching 100% Zero-Emission Vehicles

Published Aug 25, 2022

SACRAMENTO (August 25, 2022)—California’s adoption today of standards that require automakers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles will help advance the fight against climate change and air pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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The sales standards are the centerpiece of the Advanced Clean Cars II rules adopted by the Air Resources Board. They require that 35% of model 2026 new passenger vehicles sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), increasing to 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. They are the first standards in the nation to set yearly sales targets to achieve the goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions.

“Transportation is by far the largest cause of heat-trapping emissions in California and passenger vehicles are the single largest source,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer in the UCS Clean Transportation Program. “The new standards will drive down the tailpipe emissions that are fouling the air in California and fueling the climate crisis. Today’s action also means other states now have the opportunity to adopt these standards so they can improve their air quality and cut climate pollution.”

Recent UCS analysis found that ZEVs have significant climate benefits as California’s electricity grid increasingly relies on clean and renewable sources.

“Some automakers are already ramping up development of electric models as urgency grows around the climate crisis and consumer demand for these vehicles is on the rise,” he said. “These rules will help hold all car companies accountable.”

Reichmuth said that while this is a big step in cleaning up transportation in California, more must be done to reduce air pollution and climate-changing emissions. He noted that the ZEV requirements fall short of the pace the Air Resources Board’s own analysis shows is needed to meet the state’s climate goals.

“Policymakers can further accelerate deployment of electric vehicles by investing in vehicle incentive and other financial assistance programs that will make affordable new and used zero-emission vehicles available to low-income drivers and those who live in communities most impacted by air pollution,” he said.

California’s adoption of these standards comes as the federal government has committed to significant climate actions that will boost the electric car market by providing tax credits for zero-emission vehicles under the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as funding for charging stations under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

“All of these policies will work together to limit climate impacts, improve air quality and protect consumers from volatile gas prices by speeding the transition to emission-free electric cars powered by clean energy,” said UCS President Johanna Chao Kreilick.