At least nine states now plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars after 2035, and several others are thinking about joining them.
Traditional gas-powered cars on the road at that point wouldn't be affected, and drivers would still be allowed to buy used gas-powered cars. Automakers and dealerships, however, would be prohibited from selling new gas vehicles in states where bans are in place.
Meanwhile at the federal level, the Environment Protection Agency has a proposal that would essentially require that 67% of new car sales be electric vehicles by the 2032 model year.
States banning new gas-powered cars
On July 26, Connecticut became the latest state to announce it will require all new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles in 2035 and beyond.
“Cars and trucks represent the largest air pollution sector in our state," Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. "These regulations are moving in coordination with commitments made by vehicle manufacturers to go all in on electrification."
The governors of Maryland and Rhode Island made similar announcements in March and May, respectively. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement that “it’s a major step in the state’s acceleration to improve air quality and combat the effects of climate change.”
- California was the first state to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, which at least eight other states have now embraced.
- California's plans specify that 35% of new car sales will need to be zero-emission vehicles by 2026, with that number rising to 68% by 2030.
- All of the planned bans are in coastal states: In addition to the four states already mentioned, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington have made the commitment to stop allowing sales of new gas-powered vehicles after 2035.
- Generally, the states' plans have not required votes from their legislatures. Instead, they’ve been advanced with support from governors and environmental regulators.
Other states consider gas car bans
Delaware "has begun a regulatory process to adopt zero emission vehicle standards," said Emily Hershman, director of communications for Gov. John Carney. "That process is not complete, and no final determination has been made."
Megan O'Toole, with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, says the state adopted Advanced Clean Cars II in December 2022, including the 2035 zero-emissions vehicle requirement for new car sales. However, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has not come out in support and his office did not respond to a request for comment.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vows that the state will not ban sales of new gas-powered cars after 2035, but the state's emissions standards are currently tied to California's. As a spokesperson for the sustainability nonprofit Ceres explains, "Virginia passed legislation coupling the state with California standards; although there is talk of repealing, for now VA is technically required by law to implement ACC II starting with Model Year 2026."
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in July that the state will set annual targets for the sale of new zero-emission vehicles, and New Mexico may adopt parts of Advanced Clean Cars II. But officials have not endorsed the 2035 ban. The rules New Mexico are advancing "do not prohibit the sale or ownership of new or used gasoline-powered vehicles," according to Caroline Sweeney, press secretary for Lujan Grisham.
Like New Mexico, Maine is considering targets for EVs and PHEVs through 2032, but a 2035 ban isn't in the cards at this time. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing about Advanced Clean Cars II regulation on Aug. 17.
Why it matters
As an increasing number of states come out with plans to ban new gas-powered cars, automakers could feel pressure to accelerate their production of electric cars.
In 2023, about 7% of new vehicle sales are electric, a major increase from about 3% in 2021. The transition to electric cars is already underway, and the 2035 bans show how quickly it could speed up.
Keep in mind
Ultimately, it's unclear how restrictive these bans will end up being, given that major automakers are ramping up production of electric vehicles with the intention of phasing out gas-powered models.
- For example, General Motors expects to have completed a full transition to electric vehicle sales by 2035. Some smaller automakers have announced even more ambitious timeframes.
- European Union lawmakers have approved a full ban on new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035, so it's hard to imagine that many gas-powered cars from European automakers will still be on the market in the U.S. by that time.
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