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California to End Sales of New Gas Cars by 2035 

California intends to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles. California Governor Gavin Newsom first announced the plan to phase out gas vehicles by 2035 in September 2020. State regulators recently approved a policy that will prohibit the sale of new gas cars in California, the country’s largest auto market, by 2035. In 2021, California’s car sales totaled 136.8 billion US dollars, accounting for 11.74% of all car sales in the United States of America. 



This is an ambitious plan, considering that, despite high demand for electric vehicles, EV sales accounted for only 3% of total car sales last year. Regardless of whether automakers ramp up production of their EVs, there will be numerous challenges to overcome when the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles is phased out by 2035. 


One major issue is that EVs continue to be incredibly expensive. An EV costs more than $65,000 on average. Even though the average car price has reached an all-time high, it is still only $47,000 in the United States. 


President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act includes a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a new electric vehicle. However, to reduce the cost of EVs, the batteries must be more cost-effective. These batteries cost more than internal combustion engines. So, how can we make batteries more affordable? 


China’s Minerals Market 

China currently dominates the rare earth mineral market, and the automotive industry has a reputation for sourcing EV batteries from the country. The goal for the coming years is to reduce the reliance on China. That, however, is an extremely difficult task. 

“Something in the order of about 90% of the lithium that’s used in batteries is processed in China right now, which is not a desirable situation,” says Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Guidehouse Insights. 


EV Infrastructure Is Not Ready 


The number of charging stations readily available throughout the country is insufficient to accommodate such an increase in EVs. According to a recent J.D. Power survey, the limited availability and dependability of charging stations is a major deterrent to purchasing electric vehicles. The government recognizes this and has set aside $7.5 billion to expand infrastructure and build more charging stations. Even with improved infrastructure, the electrical grid remains the most significant challenge. For decades, the United States has had an electricity grid that is more than 99 percent reliable, delivering electricity to millions of households across the country consistently and effectively. Assuming a significant increase in the number of EVs charged, serviced, and purchased by most California residents over the next 30 years, it is unclear how much the already fragile and vulnerable electric grid can withstand. Even with our current grid, there are still unforeseeable circumstances that could arise and render the electrical grid inoperative. As Hurricane Ida demonstrated in the summer of 2021, over 1 million people in eight states were without power. It’s difficult to imagine what would happen if you needed to go somewhere but couldn’t because your car was not charged. 


With all these areas to consider when tackling an ambitious policy such as this, it is very likely that the process will not be a smooth one. This affects everyone, from the buyers, drivers, and manufacturers. As we have seen throughout the history of California, most policies revolving around environmental initiatives find their way into policies across the rest of the states. 


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