Cars and Light-Trucks are Going Zero - Frequently Asked Questions
Visit the Advanced Clean Cars II web site for more information on the regulations. Zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) as discussed below include battery electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). To learn more about each of these types of vehicles, please visit DriveClean.ca.gov.
ADVANCED CLEAN CARS II REQUIREMENTS
Can I still drive my gasoline car after 2035?
Yes. California is only requiring that all NEW cars sold in 2035 and beyond are zero-emission vehicles which includes battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles. Gasoline cars can still be driven in California, registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and sold as a used car to a new owner.
Can California achieve this goal?
Zero-emission vehicle sales in California are growing and reached more than 1 million sales in 2021. Visit the Veloz EV Market Report for quarterly sales updates. The automotive industry is now geared to build for a future that is zero emissions, with hundreds of billions of dollars being invested in development and manufacture of zero-emission vehicles and commitments from many automakers.
How is California government supporting all communities, especially those most impacted by poor air quality, with the this move to zero-emission vehicles?
California agencies are taking a multi-faceted approach to ensure the move toward zero-emission vehicles is equitable. This includes increased incentive amounts for new and used ZEVs, new assurance measures to ensure that used ZEVs meet the needs of drivers as well as more directed equity actions from private industry.
Also, of the state’s investment in zero-emission transportation, a proportion is dedicated toward low-income consumer vehicle purchases incentives, affordable and convenient zero-emission vehicle infrastructure access in low-income neighborhoods, and to support sustainable community-based transportation equity projects that increase access to zero-emission mobility in disadvantaged and low-income communities.
ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES
What is a Zero Emission Vehicle?
Zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) include battery electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). To learn more about each of these types of vehicles, please visit DriveClean.ca.gov.
What types of new zero emission vehicles will I be able to buy in 2035?
You will be able to purchase the same body styles of vehicles offered today, but they will be zero emission. Pick-up trucks, crossovers and SUVs are all available as well as all other vehicle classes. There are currently over 70 different makes and models of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric cars available with that number expected to grow to nearly 200 in the next few years.
Will I have to spend a lot of money to buy an zero emission vehicle?
As the cost of batteries continues to drop, the price of a battery-electric vehicle will eventually become the same as a combustion engine vehicle. Consumer Reports recently issued a study showing that battery electric vehicles can already save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle compared to conventional cars – and save up to $4,700 in fuel costs in just the first seven years.
Are there incentives to help offset the higher up-front cost of a zero emission vehicle?
There are several incentive programs to help bring down the upfront costs of ZEVs. They include but are not limited to:
- Federal tax credit
- Clean Vehicle Rebate Project
- Clean Fuels Rewards
There are also some incentive programs available only for income-eligible buyers to ensure we are supporting our most vulnerable populations. These include:
- Clean Vehicle Assistance Program
- Clean Cars 4 All
There may be other local incentives available as well. For a complete list of incentives visit Driveclean.ca.gov/search-incentives.
Can a zero emission vehicle really get me where I need to go?
Yes. New battery electric vehicles typically have ranges above 200 miles which will meet most people’s day-to-day driving needs. If you need to go farther, public DC Fast chargers are becoming widely available throughout California and the United States. DC Fast charging allows you to recharge your car battery in about 30 minutes so you can get to your destination. Depending on the range of your electric vehicle and how far you need to go will determine how many stops you’ll need to make at DC Fast chargers so you can get to your destination.
Also, another option may be a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle especially as more hydrogen stations are deployed. Fuel cell electric vehicles can be fueled in a few minutes similar to filling up your gas tank now.
Visit DriveClean.ca.gov to learn about charging/fueling a ZEV.
Are zero emission pick-up trucks available for sale?
Yes, electric trucks are now available and on California roads such as the Rivian electric pick-up and the Ford F-150 Lightning with more options coming soon. Most have all the features of the current pick-up trucks like 4WD and towing capacity with some added features like good torque and the ability to power your home right from your truck. To learn more about the electric vehicles on the market, visit DriveClean.ca.gov
I like camping and backwoods adventures. How am I supposed to do that in a zero emission vehicle?
Electric pick-up trucks, SUVs and hatchbacks with 2WD and 4WD options are available now with even more coming in the next year or two to meet your camping and backwoods adventure needs. Plus, if an electric vehicle won’t work for your backwoods adventures, you can always consider a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle that can be refueled with gasoline or a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle if your adventure takes you far off the beaten path
I've heard extreme heat and cold can affect electric car range. For people who live in very hot or very cold climates, will electric vehicles work?
Yes. Electric vehicles can be driven in both extremely hot and cold weather. Cold weather can reduce range, but with longer-range electric vehicles on the market, with a little planning this won’t impact the vehicles’ ability to get you where you need to go. Also, some auto makers are adding technologies that help control the temperature of the battery to counteract impacts from extremely hot or cold weather. The good news is electric vehicles are already popular and work for drivers in the Northeast and East Coast and make up over 70% of all car sales in Norway, known as particularly cold areas in winter.
Do electric vehicles have the power to climb hills and mountains? I've heard that some of them cannot make it over steep terrain.
Electric vehicles are designed to perform the same or better than the gasoline vehicles they replace. Electric vehicles have high torque which help them accelerate quickly and get up steep inclines. Today’s vehicles have more electric range, leaving plenty of margin for mountain driving. And electric vehicles benefit from downhill driving which allows regenerative braking to put energy back into the battery, extending how far you can go.
I've heard too many stories about electric cars going up in flames. Are they safe to drive?
Electric vehicles are safe to drive, and electric vehicle fires are less common than fires in gas vehicles. A recent study by Auto Insurance EZ found that full battery electric vehicles are less likely to catch fire with just 25 fires per 100,000 sales compared to 3,475 hybrid vehicle fires and 1,530 gas vehicle fires per 100,000 sales. Other research has found that Finland has about 1.6 fires per 10,000 electric vehicles compared to 4.3 per 10,000 combustion engine vehicle fires and that in Norway only 2.3% of all car fires have concerned electric vehicles.
Are zero emission vehicles actually cleaner than gas cars?
In full electric mode, an electric car produces zero tailpipe emissions, dramatically lowering smog and greenhouse gas emissions even when considering electricity generation. And even when considering emissions from the powerplant, electric vehicles are cleaner than gas cars. For instance, in California, where 45% of electricity is currently generated from fossil fuels, a gas car would need to get 134 mpg to match an electric vehicle.
U.S. Department of Energy has developed a Beyond Tailpipe Calculator to estimate the total greenhouse gas emissions for your electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle. You can enter your ZIP Code and calculate the tailpipe emissions for your car. The calculator includes upstream emissions to produce the car and battery.
What happens to zero emission vehicle batteries at the end of their life?
Retired battery systems can be used in several ways based on their physical characteristics, state of health, and performance, or they will be recycled or disposed if no longer useable. Some battery modules removed from vehicles can be refurbished and reused directly as a replacement battery pack for the same model vehicle.
In some cases, after use in a vehicle, lithium battery packs could deliver additional years of service in a stationary application. Examples include backup power for homes or cellular towers as well as for large buildings like sports arenas or electric utility grids. Second-life batteries reduce the demand for newly mined materials used in the production of new energy storage batteries.
Are zero emission vehicle batteries recycled?
Battery recycling is improving and will continue to improve overtime. New industries are developing ways to recover the most valuable materials from batteries with the intention of reuse. They are also looking at a closed-loop battery production process in which batteries are recycled, remanufactured and returned to the same factory.
Also, the proposed Advanced Clean Cars II regulation would require manufacturers of ZEVs, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hybrid-electric vehicles to include a label on the vehicle battery that provides key information about the battery system. This will ensure that used batteries can be sustainably and properly managed at their end of life and critical battery materials are efficiently recovered. All of this will help reduce the need for additional mining to supply critical energy materials for ZEV batteries in the amounts needed to displace internal combustion vehicles.
Is there usually a warranty on the battery when I buy a new zero emission vehicle?
Yes. All automakers include a warranty on the battery and most have at a minimum an 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. The battery warranty is not required by regulation at this time; however, the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations do include provisions to require automakers to include a minimum warranty on the battery of 8-years/100,000 miles. There will also be durability requirements on electric vehicles that protect the secondary market for these cars.
Should I consider buying a used EV and how will I know the battery is still good?
Yes, used EVs are a great way to get in an EV at a more affordable price. As mentioned above, as of model year 2026, an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery will be required for all EVs even though many auto makers already provide this level of warranty for their EVs. There will also be durability requirements on electric vehicles that ensure that the battery still maintains at least 75% of its electric range. There are also incentive programs that include used electric vehicles. Visit driveclean.ca.gov/incentives to learn more incentives for both new and used EVs.
CHARGING and ELECTRICITY
Will there be enough electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling stations to keep up with the growing number of electric vehicles on the roads?
California is on the fast track to build out both electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling stations with policies, investments, and regulatory streamlining, to ensure everyone can charge and refuel when and where they need to.
To ensure a successful transition, Governor Newsom allocated billions to zero-emission vehicles to help make these vehicles more affordable and convenient for all Californians, while building out the infrastructure and charging stations needed to facilitate this transition.
The California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Clean Transportation Program supports the deployment of infrastructure needed to fuel zero-emission vehicles. The Clean Transportation Program leverages public funding with private funds to deploy electric and hydrogen vehicle infrastructure throughout the state, and advances zero-emission vehicle technology through demonstrations and pilots. Additional public and private investment in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure will be needed to achieve targets in the governor’s executive order. Current analysis underway at the Energy Commission examines gaps in the number, type, and location of infrastructure to help ensure equitable access and even distribution of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure. The Energy Commission is also examining grid impacts from electric vehicle load and exploring ways to integrate the new load to use the grid and renewable generation more efficiently.
Is it difficult or expensive to install a charger at my home?
Charging a car at home can be as easy as plugging in the convenience cord that comes with an electric vehicle into a 110 Volt plug. This type of charging is known as Level 1 and can provide about 3-6 miles of range for each hour a car is plugged in. However, if you want a faster charge, you may want to install a Level 2 charger at your home which provides about 14-35 miles of range per hour of charging. With the new Advanced Clean Cars II proposal, starting with model year 2026, electric vehicles will be required to come with a convenience cord that can charge at both Level 1 and 2 and will reduce the cost for home charging. To learn more about equipment and incentives available now in your area, visit the Electric For All Home Charging Advisor.
I live in an apartment/condo and don’t have control over my parking space. Where am I supposed to charge my electric car?
This is a challenge California is working to improve by investing in a robust public charging network, supporting property owners with incentives to install charging equipment, as well as updating building codes and standards to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations in new and existing construction. In the meantime, please find additional resources for talking to your building owner or homeowners association about installing an electric vehicle charging station.
How much does it cost to charge a battery electric vehicle?
On average, charging an electric car costs half of what it costs to refuel a comparable gas-powered car. Charging costs depend on your electric vehicle’s battery size and the local price of electricity. Most electric utilities offer special time-of-use rates that greatly reduce costs by billing less for electricity used during off-peak hours. Visit DriveClean.ca.gov to learn more.
Will the electrical grid be able to handle all these electric cars?
Over the next decade, electric vehicles are expected to add only a small amount of electricity demand to California’s grid. In 2030, 5.4 million light-duty electric vehicles and 193,000 medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles will only account for about 4.0% of total system electric load during the peak hours (4-9pm). Today’s smaller electric vehicle population only accounts for less than 1% during the same peak period in 2022. This information is based on CEC's 2021 Integrated Energy Policy Report demand forecast.
State agencies and policymakers are implementing policies to encourage grid-friendly load growth. For example, management strategies such as time-of-use rates will be able to shift charging to non-peak system hours to mitigate grid impacts and prevent potential system overloads. When implementing time-of-use rates, electricity will cost a different amount depending on the time of day. By responding to price signals through software and automation, consumers can save more money on their fuel costs and mitigate grid impacts.
Further, electric vehicles can help use the abundant solar energy that California offers. Looking even further ahead, the energy stored in electric vehicle batteries could one day be discharged to shore up electricity demand from a connected building (or even to the distribution grid), whether in response to extreme events or as a part of regular load shifting.
How will electric vehicles work if there is a power outage?
A resilient and reliable electric grid is the backbone for the smooth functioning of today’s transportation sector (powering petroleum refineries, moving fuels along pipelines across the state, pumping fuel at gas stations, charging an electric vehicle, etc.) and will continue to be paramount for maximizing charging options in a future with a large number of electric vehicles on the road.
During a power outage, gas station pumps and electric vehicle charging stations all lose power and are not able to function without intervention. Charging stations can be strategically backed up with stationary storage, batteries, and onsite generation.
HYDROGEN FUEL CELL VEHICLES
How is the state supporting fuel cell electric vehicles?
Battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles have complementary roles in meeting California’s air quality and climate goals. While both technologies are continuing to improve, we will need both to meet the needs of all drivers and their different driving requirements.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are potentially more attractive to drivers who place a high value on vehicle range and/or fast refueling. This could include individual private drivers with very long commutes and transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. In other cases, especially for those in multifamily housing, access to at-home or even at-work charging may be limited and a zero-emission fuel that is dispensed in a similar way to today's gasoline can offer a viable alternative.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are also expected to provide better performance and utility in heavier vehicle classes (such as SUVs and pickup trucks which have been a fast-growing sector in California's new vehicle purchases and are expected to grow in the future) and when towing heavy loads.
Will there be more fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations available in the future?
Yes. There are currently 62 hydrogen stations open to the public. The most recent published estimate indicates that up to 98 may be open by the end of 2023. Through a combination of public funding from the State of California and private funds, there are up to 176 total hydrogen stations currently funded and planned for development as early as 2026. Additional funding currently available and planned will help ensure the network of funded hydrogen stations in California will meet or even exceed 200 total stations before 2030. State and local agencies as well as the federal government are collaborating with each other to develop the necessary charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure needed to grow the vehicle market.
While the State of California currently provides grant funding and other financial support for hydrogen fueling stations, CARB has also identified several opportunities for the hydrogen fueling industry to become financially self-sufficient and no longer require financial support from government. See the Hydrogen Station Self-Suffincieny Report for details.
Are fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling safe?
Yes, both the vehicles and the fueling stations are safe. Safety is always a top priority for hydrogen fueling. Many of the safety concerns that are commonly cited are addressed by today's available technology, safety codes and standards, and best practices for operations.
All fuels pose some risk, and it is important to understand and address the nature of the risks posed by each fuel. Many industry, academic, and government organizations have put extensive effort into ensuring the safety of fuel cell electric vehicle and hydrogen fueling equipment. Various state agencies collaborate with the Center for Hydrogen Safety, which has proven to be a valuable partner in evaluating and ensuring hydrogen system safety.