RFA calls California’s zero-emission vehicle rule disappointing

By Erin Voegele | August 26, 2022

The California Air Resources Board on Aug. 25 approved a rule that aims to phase out the sale of new cars and light-duty trucks with internal combustion engines by 2035. The Renewable Fuels Association called the rule disappointing and is urging the state to pursue technology-neutral, market-based approaches to achieve emissions reductions.

Under the rule, 100 percent of new cars sales in the state must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. The rule targets 35 percent ZEV sales by 2026, 68 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. According to CARB, the regulations applies to automakers, not dealers, and covers only new vehicle sales. The agency said the rule does not impact existing vehicles, which will still be legal to own and drive.

Plug-in hybrid, full battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles count toward an automaker’s’ requirement. Plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) must have an all-electric range of at least 50 miles under real-world driving conditions. In addition, automakers will be allowed to meet to more than 20 percent of their overall ZEV requirements with PHEVs. Battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles will need a minimum range of 150 miles to qualify under the program, include fast charging ability and come equipped with a charging cord to facilitate charging, and meet new warranty and durability requirements, according to CARB.

The RFA cautioned that the rule will put more strain on an already overburdened power grid and is highlighting the greenhouse gas (RHG) reduction impact of the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. “We are disappointed and mystified by California’s decision to ban the internal combustion engine in 2035,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “This move will severely limit options and raise the cost of vehicle ownership for California consumers, while putting more strain on an already-overburdened electrical grid. While we support the state’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, we strongly disagree with the notion that electric vehicles are the only way to get there. Policies that dictate technology winners and losers often backfire and rarely deliver the desired results. We believe technology-neutral, market-based approaches—like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard—are much more efficient and economical in achieving desired carbon reductions.

“The use of ethanol under the LCFS has generated nearly 27 million metric tons of greenhouse gas savings—35 percent of the total since implementation began and more than any other low-carbon fuel used in the state,” Cooper continued. “Further, the average carbon intensity of ethanol used in California has fallen substantially since 2011, as ethanol producers adopted new technologies and CARB improved its modeling. America’s ethanol producers have committed to net-zero carbon emissions, on average, by 2050 or sooner and have identified multiple workable pathways toward that goal. Today, we’re well on the way there, and we urge California to open itself to all the possibilities that lie ahead.”