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California Just Banned Gas-Powered Car Sales...in 2035

By Rich Smith – Sep 23, 2020 at 5:50PM

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Did California just kill the non-electric car?

So long, internal combustion engine. We hardly knew ye -- and starting in 2035, you'll be banned from California new car lots. On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that will ban the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered automobiles within the state effective 2035, saying the ban is essential to the state's goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Mind you, the ban won't forbid ownership of gas-powered cars. It won't forbid reselling used cars that are powered by internal combustion or driving them on California roads (at least not yet). What it will do, is ensure that, 15 years from now, the only new cars sold in the state are zero-emission electric vehicles.

Cartoon of a yellow car plugged into an electric charging station.

Image source: Getty Images.

Newsom's announcement came one day after Tesla (TSLA -1.14%) CEO Elon Musk lamented, during his "Battery Day" exposition, that only about 1% of car sales in the U.S. currently are electric. In California, that number is closer to 10%, reports The Wall Street Journal. But far from being proud about that accomplishment, the governor seems to be viewing it as merely 10 down, 90 more to go.  

California's ban can be expected to accelerate Detroit's transition away from gas-powered cars and toward electrics. Of course, the major U.S. automakers were headed in that direction already and, in a statement today, Ford (F 0.15%), for example, seemed to accept California's ban as an inevitability, agreeing that "it's time to take urgent action to address climate change."

The ban may have one, perhaps unintended side effect: Japan's Toyota (TM -0.76%), which has focused its efforts on improving fuel efficiency with hybrid gas-electric engines, and which became the world's second largest car company partly thanks to its popular Prius hybrid, may be forced to switch strategies and go all-electric going forward.  

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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