As automakers continue to push electric vehicles into the market despite minimal demand, the EV market continues to make headway on the political football field, often at the expense of ICE-powered vehicles. The latest addition to this story comes out of California, where Governor Gavin Newsom has just signed an executive order which will result in a California gas car ban by 2035, according to Reuters.
Spurred on by yet another year of significant wildfires in the state, Governor Newsom made it clear earlier this month that he would be moving quickly to help combat the effects of climate change in the nation’s most populous state. Following yesterday’s announcement, the California Air Resources Board will be responsible for designing the regulations, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 35 percent. Hypothetically.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Newsom during the announcement of the order. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. You deserve to have a car that doesn’t give your kids asthma… Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
California will join 15 countries who have set a deadline for the sale of ICE-powered vehicles in an effort to speed the transition to electric vehicles. It is important to note that this executive order will not prevent residents from owning a gasoline-powered vehicle, nor will it prevent them from being sold on the second-hand market.
“Pull away from the gas pumps,” Newsom said. “Let us no longer be victims of geopolitical dictators that manipulate global supply chains and global markets.”
California is both the largest new car market in the U.S., with 1.8 million vehicle sales in 2019, and also accounts for the most electric car purchases of any state. At the same time, California ranks third nationally in oil production, behind only Texas and North Dakota. Considering its local availability, the supply of oil goes against Newsom’s remarks of being “victims” of “dictators” that manipulate global supply chains and markets.
Inversely, California has little to offer itself when it comes to locally mining rare earth metals and elements like cobalt and lithium that are needed to produce EV batteries. These minerals are heavily sourced from countries like the DRC, which constantly faces scrutiny for its government corruption. This lack of immediate availability would in turn make California and other states following Newsom’s logic to be more vulnerable to the global supply chain of the rare earth mineral mining industry, often from places of dubious origin.
The impact of this decision may play a major impact on what American automakers lineups look like moving forward. As the largest state, California is also home to the largest car market in the country, with Reuters stating that 11% of all domestic car sales take place in the state. With such a massive part of the market requiring an electric vehicle, automakers are going to have to start rolling out many more BEV options.
Making a move to address the effects of climate change is understandable. However, mandating the sale of electric vehicles without investing in the infrastructure to support them seems shortsighted. Furthermore, personal vehicles are far from the main source of pollution in the transportation sector. As our friends at The Drive once reported, Carnival’s small fleet of 46 cruise ships is responsible for 10x the amount of air pollution as all of the 260 million cars in Europe combined. In short, the California gas car ban could not only do little to combat climate change, but appears to open up greater vulnerability regarding necessary supply chains.
Next time someone makes you feel bad about lusting after a gasoline-powered V8 muscle car, just remember that.