According to a report published by Automotive News, the decision could “dramatically accelerate the transition to electric vehicles nationwide if other states follow suit”.
The 2035 goal, which was first announced by Governor Gavin Newsom two years ago, set a firm timetable that requires vehicle manufacturers to steadily increase the sales of zero-emissions cars in the United States’ largest car market.
Automotive News said that because as many as 17 other states typically follow California’s automotive emissions standards, the upcoming decision by the California Air Resources Board “could reverberate far beyond the Golden State’s borders”, forcing the automotive industry to speed up the roll-out of all-electric models.
California has long been the United States’ top market for electric vehicles, which accounted for 15 per cent of all new cars registered over the past 12 months. The proposed regulations would set annual targets for bolstering that percentage, starting at 35 per cent in 2026 and 68 per cent by the end of the decade.
Plug-in hybrid models will be included within those goals.
The state of California already has its own clean-vehicle incentive program whereby rebates of as much as $US7000 are offered towards the purchase of zero-emissions vehicles. Cars costing more than $US45,000 do not qualify.
Automotive News said the forthcoming decision would dovetail with President Biden’s efforts to promote the sale of electric vehicles. The inflation reduction act signed by Mr Biden last week includes tax credits of up to $US7500 for EV buyers, but are means tested.
The act comes on top of the 2021 United States infrastructure law that included $US5 billion towards the construction of a nationwide network of EV charging stations along major highways, which aimed to “convince drivers they won’t get stranded without power on a trip if they make the switch” to an electric vehicle.
According to Edmunds, the average sale price for an EV in the United States last month was $US62,900 compared with $47,200 for other vehicle types.
“If automakers can pick up production, sufficient investments are made in charging infrastructure and the power grid, and financial incentives can be made more available, this milestone should be achievable, if not surpassable,” Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell told Automotive News.
While generally supportive some automotive manufacturers have expressed concerns that the timeline for EV adoption is too short, saying many consumers may not be ready to part ways with their thermal-powered vehicles.
In the United States, electric vehicles made up less than six per cent of all new vehicles sold in the first half of this year.
Prices of electrified models are considerably dearer than their ICE equivalents, an issue many say will only worsen as the cost of raw materials, COVID-19 related supply and logistic disruptions and ballooning inflation take a tighter grip on an industry that is already under pressure.