California’s Gas-Fueled Car Ban: Can We Really All Drive Electric Cars?

Sunday, September 27, 2020
Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

With the flick of a pen on the hood of a metallic-red electric Ford Mustang, Gov. Gavin Newsom set in motion the elimination of the internal combustion engine in California.

But turning Newsom’s vision of a cleaner-air future into reality will require 15 years of tough policy decisions to make electric cars affordable and charging stations ubiquitous.

The executive order that Newsom signed last week banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035 would transform the state’s transportation system to an extent not seen in modern history, putting most drivers in cars powered by electricity. What was missing were the details of how California will require automakers to make such a rapid transition to electric cars, which make up just 6% of the state’s car market today.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has pushed to expand rebates for years, without success. He said the state should consider borrowing money so it can offer larger rebates immediately, then decrease them gradually over time — giving buyers a nudge to act now.

“The rebate program has not been set up to send a consistent message,” said Ting, who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee. “The program has been long overdue for reform.”