Compared to all other states, California is leading the pack in the electric vehicle (EV) race. At last count it had more than 425,000 light-duty EV registrations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which last updated those numbers in mid-2021. At the time, California was home to approximately 42% of all EVs nationwide, with Florida and Texas coming in at second and third, respectively.
With both hybrid and electric vehicles in high demand due to rising fuel costs, these vehicles are currently in short supply and their prices are on the rise. “SUVs and pickup trucks accounted for more than three out of four vehicles sold in the U.S. last year,” OPB reports. “But consumers have become more mindful about fuel economy now that gasoline prices have surged to a record high, not adjusted for inflation.”
Globally, China led EV growth in 2021 with sales that nearly tripled to 3.4 million. In the U.S., EV sales also more than doubled in 2021 to surpass half a million. “In the world of clean energy, few areas are as dynamic as the electric car market,” the International Energy Agency reports. “In the whole of 2012, about 130 000 electric cars were sold worldwide. Today, that many are sold in the space of a single week.”
More Consumers Want them
As interest in cars that don’t guzzle fossil fuels continues to grow, California—long known for its environmentally friendly regulations and policies—has once again thrown down the gauntlet. This month, the California Air Resources Board unveiled a plan that would require 35% of all new passenger vehicles to be powered either by batteries or hydrogen by the 2026 model year.
By 2035, the state wants all such sales to exhibit net-zero emissions. Known as the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II), the regulatory proposal also includes several proposals to set minimum warranty and durability requirements; increase serviceability; and facilitate battery labeling in a way that helps consumers successfully replace their internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) with new or used zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs).
“These standards will also reduce the total cost of ownership for passenger cars and light trucks,” CARB points out, “saving drivers money in the long term and further promoting consumer adoption.”
With a board hearing date set for June 2022, CARB says the time has come to start shifting over to more—and, eventually all—electric vehicles. “The industry has rapidly responded to evolving market pressures, consumer demands, and regulatory requirements in California, across the United States, and around the globe,” it says in its report.
“Overall, these improvements have reduced costs for batteries, the main driver of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle costs, as well as for non-battery components,” it continues. “This has enabled manufacturers to accelerate plans to bring to market more long-range ZEVs in more market segments and highly capable PHEVs.”
120 EV Models by 2026
Currently, CARB says every auto manufacturer has a public commitment to significant—if not full—electrification within the next 20 years. It expects that nearly 120 different ZEV and PHEV models will be available to consumers before the 2026 model year.
Building upon its successes with regulations like LEV, which was introduced in 1990 and included aggressive exhaust emission regulations for light-duty passenger cars and trucks, CARB says California’s ZEV regulation is one piece of the overarching strategy across state agencies to electrify passenger vehicles.
“Transforming to a zero-emission transportation system equitably requires a coordinated, collaborative, and cross-cutting approach,” it admits. “Although outside the scope of this rulemaking, a comprehensive set of complementary programs and policies are being implemented by many state agencies to address what is needed for a successful ZEV market, led by the GO-Biz ZEV Market Development Strategy, and CARB intends to continue engaging in these efforts.”