California became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 to fight climate change. The new plan, announced by Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, means that consumers will have to spend about $20,000 more to purchase a new electric vehicle. The amount would make car purchases out of reach for more than half of the state’s residents in the low to middle-income brackets.
The average price of a new electric vehicle in the United States has risen 13 percent yearly from $43,338 for a car that runs on petroleum to $66,000. According to Kelley Blue Book, the cost of electric vehicles remains ‘well above the industry average and more aligned with luxury prices versus mainstream prices.’
California also still lacks charging stations. It currently has 73,000 and will need at least 1.2 million by 2030, according to a recent report by the California Energy Commission (CEC).
Newsom first announced plans for the ban in 2020 to improve the state’s air quality, worse in the U.S., by reducing the amount of smog-induced pollution particles in the air. Diesel and gas-powered vehicles account for almost 36 percent of greenhouse gases in the state, the second most emitter in the United States after Texas.
President of the Western States Petroleum Association, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, said in a 2020 interview that banning all new sales by 2035 is a ‘short time frame.’ “How do we make sure it’s affordable for the disadvantaged communities, for all those in California that are struggling, and at a pace and rate that makes sense,” she said.
“When you refuse to speak of the real cost of current electric cars or acknowledge that they’re out of reach for most middle-income Californians, you’re missing the realities most Californians face daily,” Reheis-Boyd continued.
Those involved in the petroleum industry are not the only ones unsure about Newsom’s move. Residents also aren’t sold on the idea of going all-electric. Orange County resident Jennifer Oliver O’Connell told The Orange County Register, “I don’t want an electric car, especially in a state whose utility grid is terrible and utility prices are ridiculous. Besides, if I travel the (continental) 48 United States, I can get gas anywhere. Charging stations? Not so much.”
Lack of charging stations poses a massive hurdle
Charging stations will be another hurdle the state will have to deal with. While California has more charging stations than any other in the United States, the rest of the country is far behind. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), while there are more than 145,000 fueling stations across the United States, there are only 20,000 fast EV charging stations that are often hundreds of miles between each other, with most electric vehicles only averaging about 250 miles per charge.
The CEC expects 157,000 chargers will be required by 2030 to support 180,000 medium- and heavy-duty electric buses and trucks, along with 1.2 million chargers for passenger vehicles, by 2030. The state’s goal of 250,000 chargers at 54,000 installations hasn’t yet been reached, with only 73,000 shared and public chargers installed.
Author of AB 2127 and Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Democrat assembly member Phil Ting said, “To make the evolution to zero-emission vehicles successful, California must have a robust charging infrastructure. The assessment shows we must now scale up our installation efforts, building out our charging network in order for electric vehicle adoption to be as seamless as possible. With our mission set, I’m committed to keep our state marching toward a greener future.”