It’s Time to Relax About the 2035 New Gas Car Ban

Automakers knew this was coming

Traffic on a Los Angeles Freeway

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For something big to happen, something big has to happen. In this case, the transformation of our roadways to cleaner EVs. Yesterday, California announced that by 2035 the state will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles. For some, that seems like a terrifying prospect. For others, it’s a welcome piece of regulation. 

Let’s talk about how you should be part of that second group. 

Not an Instant EV Utopia

EV charging port

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On January 1, 2035, no one will be rolling through town in—I assume—a large truck that transforms into a fire-breathing mechanical dinosaur and destroys gas-powered vehicles sitting in driveways. Sure it would make for some outstanding reality television. But that’s not what the rule says or will do. 

Instead, the rule says that all NEW cars sold in the state need to be electric. If you have a gas car at that moment, it’s fine you can still drive it around until you decide to get rid of it. The rule also allows for the sale of used gas-powered cars. The used car lot down the street, it’ll be fine. The used section of the dealership will also be fine. If you have a 1985 Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet and you want to sell it, go ahead. It’s fine. 

When the clock strikes midnight to signify the middle of the 2030 decade, the roadways in California (and likely other states) will not magically become EV-only zones. Gas cars will still exist at that moment. In fact a gas car that’s on the road right now will probably still be zipping around. Manufacturing has become incredibly efficient and the result is that cars last longer than they used to. 

So relax, no one is coming to take your gas car or the gas-powered cars of your friends and family. 

There’s Time

EVs at a charging station

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I’ve also heard, “oh my god, that’s so soon.” Actually, in the terms of EVs, it’s not. If we go back 12 years ago (aka 2010) we didn't even have the Tesla Model S on the road. You know, the car that made EVs cool to own. We did have the Nissan Leaf that was introduced in late 2010 but other than a few limited run EVs from various automakers, that was about it. 

Now we have over two dozen electric vehicles available for purchase and that number will only increase every year. To help prove that point, at this year’s very exclusive rich-person extravaganza known as the Monterey Car Week, most of the big news was electric

Automakers are cool with it; you should be too. 

Meanwhile, EVs now account for over five percent of new car sales. That number will continue to grow especially as supply issues are dealt with. It turns out, that more people want to buy EVs than are available. Don’t believe me, try buying a Hyundai Ioniq 5 right now. Even Hyundai’s site notes “Extremely Limited Availability” for anyone trying to research and buy the vehicle.

Over the next 12 years, multiple EVs will be available from nearly every automaker. Some automakers, like Volkswagen, will be completely electric by then. The fact that the number one selling vehicle in the United States for the past four decades (Ford’s F-Series truck) now has an EV variant should put to rest any concerns about availability. 

The Rest of the World

Person charging their EV

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The California news is a big deal in the United States. The reality is other countries have already started down this road. In the European Union, lawmakers have already voted to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. 

Some automakers are actually supportive of the ban. There’s one thing the automotive industry hates and that’s uncertainty. With the billions of dollars, these countries have poured into electrifying their future, having a firm date is actually quite helpful. It also benefits these automakers if these upcoming regulations regarding new car sales happen at essentially the same time. That gives them a roadmap in which to transform their fleet and not have to worry about building gas and electric versions of a vehicle. 

Automakers are cool with it; you should be too. 

Change is Scary

EV Charging spot icon painted on the ground

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EVs are cool. But also change is scary and if the ban happened today, it would be a mess. The charging infrastructure isn’t up to par and automakers just couldn't build the amount of EVs needed to make this a reality. 

Fortunately, we have 12 years to get it right. In the EV world, a lot can happen in 12 years. Who would have thought a decade ago that Tesla would sell likely a million EVs by the end of 2022 or that the Hummer would be resurrected as an electric truck. Or that there would be about million think pieces about road-trip charging. 

So relax, no one is coming to take your gas car.

There’s still a lot of work to be done ahead of 2035, but we’re on the right track. While there is some grumbling now, by the middle of the next decade some of the folks that are up in arms about this rule will probably have an EV in their driveway. Remember the shade thrown at cell phone owners before we all decided to put tiny computers in our pockets? That’s what’s going to happen to EVs. 

Change can be terrifying but right now it’s necessary to have a goal and that goal is to help reduce the emissions we spew into the air. If we get this right, in 50 years, we’ll be more concerned about the next leap in transportation instead of trying to figure out where can score some clean water and uncontaminated food. See, when it’s put that way, maybe 2035 couldn’t come soon enough.

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