Governor Newsom’s Zero-Emission by 2035 Executive Order (N-79-20)
By setting a course to end sales of internal combustion passenger vehicles by 2035, the Governor’s Executive Order establishes a target for the transportation sector that helps put the state on a path to carbon neutrality by 2045. It is important to note that the Executive Order focuses on new vehicle sales for automakers, and therefore does not require Californians to give up the existing cars and trucks they already own.
Furthermore, by setting the target in 2035, the Executive Order provides time for automakers to scale up and market new zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), as well as further impetus for the providers of charging and refueling infrastructure, electric utilities, and others to plan for and support the increasing consumer demand for these vehicles. Clear policies such as the Governor’s Executive Order help provide market signals to investors and can mobilize private capital.
What happens next? When will CARB start rulemaking actions? How long is the rulemaking process?
CARB is nearing completion of the 2020 Mobile Source Strategy, a comprehensive analysis that presents scenarios for possible strategies to reduce the carbon, toxic and unhealthy pollution from cars, trucks, equipment and ships. The strategies will provide important information for numerous regulations and incentive programs going forward by conveying what is necessary to address the aggressive emission reduction requirements California faces to improve public health.
The primary mechanism for achieving the ZEV target for passenger cars and light trucks is the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) Program. The ACC II regulations will focus on post-2025 model year light-duty vehicles, as requirements are already in place for new vehicles through the 2025 model year. CARB has begun a transparent, public process to develop the regulations, including a recent workshop to solicit public input in September 2020. The ACC II rulemaking will consider technological feasibility, environmental impacts, equity, economic and fiscal impacts, and consumer impacts. The rulemaking’s course may vary depending on the results of ongoing federal litigation; California hopes to collaborate with federal administrations as the need for ZEVs becomes ever clearer. A rulemaking generally takes two to three years to gather necessary data, assess technologies, engage industry and other stakeholders, conduct public workshops, analyze impacts, and manage the formal regulation proposal process with the Board. Staff will hold additional public workshops throughout 2021 with the goal of presenting a full proposal for Board consideration in early 2022.
In addition to ACC II, the Clean Miles Standard regulation will also help enable the goal of 100 percent ZEV sales in 2035 by creating demand for ZEVs. This regulation will have aggressive requirements for electric miles that will transition ride-hailing fleets to zero-emission operations starting in 2023 and ramping up through 2030. This regulation will be presented to the Board in mid-2021.
Will Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) count toward the ZEV target?
CARB is considering all viable technologies to help meet the target in the Governor’s Executive Order. The extent to which plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles could be counted toward the target will be determined during the ACC II rulemaking process.
Will there need to be interim requirements or goals between now and 2035?
Whether the ACC II regulations include interim requirements will be determined during the rulemaking process. As noted above, CARB considers a wide variety of factors, which together will inform an appropriate trajectory to implement the ZEV requirements.
What additional policies will be necessary to support the ZEV target?
Separate rulemaking process and incentives will be needed to address other targets in the Executive Order. This includes more stringent standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and reduced emissions from fossil fuel and electricity production. Additionally, incentive programs will continue to play an important role in growing the light-duty ZEV market. CARB’s Clean Fuel Reward, Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Clean Cars 4 All Program, and rebates provided by electric utilities each assist with purchase cost of ZEVs for consumers.
The California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Clean Transportation Program supports the deployment of infrastructure needed to fuel ZEVs. The Clean Transportation Program leverages public funding with private funds to deploy electric and hydrogen vehicle infrastructure throughout the state, and advances ZEV technology through demonstrations and pilots. Additional public and private investment in ZEV infrastructure will be needed to achieve targets in the Executive Order. Current analysis underway at the CEC examines gaps in the number, type, and location of infrastructure to help ensure equitable access and even distribution of ZEV infrastructure. The CEC is also examining grid impacts from electric vehicle load and exploring ways to integrate the new load to more efficiently use the grid and renewable generation.
Are there policy actions to ensure car buyers do not circumvent the requirements for new electric vehicles?
To the extent allowed by federal law, California regulates the emissions requirements for the sale of new vehicles and has restrictions on registration of used vehicles purchased out-of-state. Currently, used out-of-state vehicles are not a big fraction of the vehicle fleet in California since both national and state standards have been aligned for more than a decade. CARB will need to evaluate whether more protections are needed to ensure vehicles on California’s roads are clean.
Who helps build the network of vehicle charging to keep up with the growing electric vehicle fleet?
The CEC, in collaboration with CARB and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), projects the number and types of charging stations needed to meet California’s ZEV goals and identify the general region in which demand will be high. The CEC’s ZEV Dashboard provides information on vehicle counts and infrastructure.
Private investment in charging infrastructure is already significant and will continue to accelerate. The CEC has stimulated and leveraged private funding with public funding for infrastructure through the Clean Transportation Program and the Electric Program Investment Charge Program. One of the Clean Transportation Program’s key ZEV infrastructure deployment programs is the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project, which has launched projects around the state for more than $100 million to date and leverages public and private funds.
The CPUC is responsible for investments by Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU). Visit CPUC's Zero Emission Vehicle webpage holds the current information on current open proceedings that direct the IOU investment programs. Refer to program details and contacts. Publicly-owned utilities and local governments are also providing funding for infrastructure.
Can California achieve this?
Cumulative ZEV sales to date in California total more than 760,000, which is about half of all ZEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales in the United States. The CEC frequently conducts a Consumer Vehicle Survey. This survey is a basis for forecasting sales of ZEVs, and continues to show a growing preference toward ZEVs, indicating a continued strong consumer demand for ZEVs in the state.
California has a target of 250,000 electric vehicle chargers and 200 hydrogen stations by 2025. California has a growing network of charging and hydrogen refueling stations with plans to put thousands more into service, leveraging the programs listed above.
Additionally, the automotive industry is now geared to build for a future that is electric, with hundreds of billions of dollars being invested in development and manufacture of ZEVs. More than 65 models of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are now available in California’s market. 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 electric cars 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.
Why do we need to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) if all new cars will be zero-emissions?
The goal for passenger vehicles applies to the purchase of new cars starting in 2035; people will still be able to drive their existing vehicles beyond that. Even with all new cars being zero-emissions in 2035, up to 30 percent of passenger vehicles could still be gasoline-fueled in 2045, by which time we must achieve carbon neutrality to help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Furthermore, ZEVs will not be carbon neutral until the entire vehicle life cycle is zero-emissions. Vehicle and battery manufacturing come with embedded emissions, and fueling ZEVs requires electricity and hydrogen that are not yet carbon-free.
Along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, co-pollutants, and particulate emissions, reduced driving has substantial health benefits, including reduced respiratory and cardiovascular disease, traffic-related injuries and fatalities, poor mental health outcomes, and related consequences. Furthermore, auto ownership is expensive. Lowering transportation expenses by driving less helps people meet other critical household needs, accumulate wealth, buy homes where they want to live, and increase discretionary income.
Finally, less driving will reduce congestion, save money by not having to build expensive new transportation infrastructure, and reduce overall costs to maintain the road system. California’s roads have had some of the worst congestion in the nation, and we could see 10 million more vehicles on the road in California by 2050. Maintenance costs have ballooned to more than $500 million per year in California. Using travel options other than single-occupancy vehicles will help address all of these issues. Executive Order N-79-20 recognizes this need to additionally focus on reducing vehicle travel by calling on state transportation agencies to identify investment strategies for clean transportation, including transit.
Aren’t all these electric cars going to overload our electric grid? What percentage of electricity is currently used to charge electric vehicles?
In 2019, there were nearly 560,000 light-duty plug-in electric vehicles on the road. The CEC estimates that charging these electric vehicles accounted for approximately 0.3% of the annual electricity usage in 2019, and 0.1% of the system peak demand. If there are 5 million ZEVs on the road by 2030, the CEC forecasts that 95% of these will be electric (and 5% will be hydrogen fuel cell vehicles). Charging these electric vehicles is estimated to account for approximately 7% of annual electricity usage and 1% of the system peak demand. Beyond 2030, additional electric vehicles on the road will increase annual electricity usage.
However, 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-system peak 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 also mitigate grid impacts. Further, electric vehicles can help use the abundant solar energy that California has to offer. 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?
Having 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 both gas station pumps and electric vehicle charging stations lose power and are not able to function without intervention. Charging stations can strategically be backed up with stationary storage, batteries, and onsite generation.
What time of day is that demand? And has anyone modeled how much electricity demand ZEVs will make up by 2035?
Electric vehicle charging is discouraged during the peak hours through rate design. Most charging occurs at night because utility time-of-use rates are lowest during those hours. Some workplace charging also occurs mid-morning. As noted earlier, electric vehicles offer flexible loads and therefore can provide incentives (through appropriate rate design) to be charged at grid-friendly times as the grid continues to evolve.
As part of its Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR), the CEC develops a 10-year energy demand forecast for the transportation sector. The CEC is planning to extend the 10-year forecast to estimate the energy demand through 2035 as part of the 2021 IEPR.