Gas Be Gone: California Working on Bill to Banish Internal Combustion Cars by 2040

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

California Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat chairing the chamber’s budget committee, says he intends to introduce a bill that would allow the state’s motor vehicle department to register only automobiles that emit no carbon dioxide, such as battery-electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The proposed legislation would ultimately ban internal combustion engines, mimicking similar actions taken by France and the United Kingdom. Ting claims that, without a plan in place, California’s attempt to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions by 2050 will prove ineffective.

“Until you set a deadline, nothing gets done,” Ting told Bloomberg in interview on Tuesday. “It’s responsible for us to set a deadline 23 years in advance.”

Ting says he’ll introduce the bill when lawmakers return to Sacramento next month for an upcoming legislative session, believing it’s important for the mitigation of transportation-related pollution — which surpassed power plants as the biggest source of CO2 emissions in 2016. However, that could change back once a large percentage of automobiles use them to charge up every single night.

Cars are only a portion of the transportation emissions problem, though. Cruising alone is possibly the least efficient way to traverse the globe, but research has shown that taking a couple passengers in an economical gas-burning sedan is less dirty than taking a fully booked plane or half-occupied bus. Tossing in cargo ships that burn heavy marine fuel only complicates things further, as large ships are now believed to pollute far worse than the sum of the world’s cars.

Still, it’s automobiles that are facing the strictest regulations, and internal combustion cars have been in California’s crosshairs for some time. In April of 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown announced the importance of imposing fuel economy mandates by saying, “If the federal government can’t get it right, we in California are going to take care of business.”

In September of 2017, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said Brown was pressing her to move forward with an internal combustion ban. “The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California,” she explained.

“To reach the ambitious levels of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, we have to pretty much replace all combustion with some form of renewable energy by 2040 or 2050,” Nichols continued. “We’re looking at that as a method of moving this discussion forward.”

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Hpycamper Hpycamper on Dec 06, 2017

    So much negativity. We are becoming a less civilized society.

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 07, 2017

      This comment is worth a Bitcoin. Spot on, I've been saying it for years: devolution.

  • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Dec 06, 2017

    Barring a miracle breakthrough, battery technology will continue to lurch ahead. It's not hard to find announcements about miracle breakthroughs in lab demonstrations. Maybe one or more will be the miracle we are looking for, on a manufacturing scale. I'm a little more concerned about the chargers. To get the energy into the batteries as fast as we impatient people like, we are heading towards industrial voltages and amperage. Search on arc flashover - there are some gruesome videos of arc shorts creating a gas plasma at temperatures up to 35,000F or 20,000C, plus an explosion. As greater numbers of fast chargers are deployed and larger numbers of Average Joes/Janes use them on aging EVs or those with a design/manufacturing flaw, are we going to see a flashover accident on national news?

    • See 1 previous
    • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Dec 07, 2017

      @Jack Denver The issue is tracking down all the potential failure modes in the charging system. High voltage seems to have a way of finding ground. People still get burned in ICE cars despite a century plus of design experience. The point is not to get all Luddite about EVs but to be respectful of the energy involved. AFAIK, there has been only one fatality - a electrical contractor who made a misstep installing a charging station. That may or may not be a high number statistically.

  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.
  • Theflyersfan Given so many standard nav systems aren't the best and updating could mean a dealer trip, and I stream all music, Android Auto is an absolute must. Wireless isn't necessary and some wireless chargers overheat the phone. And there are some hacks that let YouTube stream on the screen - excellent for listening to concerts.
  • Jeff I going to guess by the condition of the body and interior that there is little to no rust on the frame. Appears to be a very well maintained car.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would not buy a new daily car without it.
  • Namesakeone I hate the thought, and I hope I'm wrong. Mazda. They're a small fish in a really big pond, and they made their reputation on sports cars--a market segment that nobody seems to want to buy new anymore.