California has bet big on electric cars. Should you?

(NerdWallet) – California is about to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars in the state. The Advanced Clean Cars II regulations, approved Aug. 25 by the California Air Resources Board, would require all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in California to be zero-emissions by 2035.

Though a far cry from nationwide reform, the California rule is impacting the largest car-buying market in the United States, and it’s already being adopted by some other states. Does this mean you will be forced to buy an electric or EV vehicle? No. But the pressure is strong for the automotive industry.

What is the California rule?

Under the new regulations, California has set benchmarks for new-vehicle sales starting with the 2026 model year, when 35% of new-car sales in the state must be battery-powered electric vehicles. hydrogen fuel or plug-in hybrids. Currently, more than 16% of new vehicles sold in California are zero-emission or hybrid models, according to California regulators.

With that kind of lead in the state, Jessica Caldwell, executive director of news at automotive site Edmunds, thinks automakers could hit the first criterion. But meeting California’s goals also depends on improving infrastructure that supports more electric vehicles.

“While California’s net-zero emissions decision might have been called a rather aggressive goal when it was introduced in 2020, automakers have long been preparing for an electric future, and there have been notable advancements in the industry. been made since then,” Caldwell said in a press release. “If automakers can resume production, if sufficient investment is made in charging infrastructure and the power grid, and if financial incentives can be made more available, this step should be achievable, if not surpassable.”

The standards gradually increase each year after 2026, requiring electric or hybrid vehicles to account for more than two-thirds of car sales by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

New standards would also aim to make zero-emission vehicles more reliable and durable so consumers actually want to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle instead of their favorite gas-powered models.

Before the new regulations can be enforced, the state will have to seek a waiver from the US Environmental Protection Agency, allowing it to set stricter rules than the federal government.

Don’t live in California? This could still be your future

California is known as a pioneer in environmental protection. So while these regulations are currently outliers, they will likely be adopted in other states and supported at the federal level.

Seventeen states have adopted the old zero-emission vehicle standards set by California and could follow suit with these new rules. (A few have already done so, including Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington.) Those 18 states accounted for 40% of the new-vehicle market in 2021, according to a report by the National Automobile Dealers Association on the profile financing of new car dealerships. in the USA

The Reducing Inflation Act highlighted the federal government’s priority to reduce carbon emissions. Legislated initiatives include incentives for green energy and electric vehicles. The new law, signed by President Joe Biden on August 16, renewed a tax credit for consumers who purchase eligible new electric vehicles and added one for used electric vehicle purchases. But the incentives come with a set of qualifications meant to encourage the auto industry to strengthen its domestic supply chain, and most electric vehicles currently on the market are not eligible.

yes you can keep your car on gas

Rules like California’s apply specifically to the production of new cars by automakers. They don’t dictate what people can drive, and the current rules don’t affect the sale of gas-powered used cars.

We’re also more than a decade away from seeing only electric models on every batch of cars. So if you’re looking to buy a new car in the next few years, there’s still a lot to consider about whether it should be an electric vehicle.

Here are some ideas to help you think through your next car purchase.

What car can you afford?

Cost remains the most important factor for most people when buying a car, says Karl Brauer, executive analyst at Whether you’re considering a new or used car, an electric or gas-powered model, make sure you know how much you can spend.

In July, the average price for an electric vehicle sold through a dealership was $62,893, according to Edmunds. That compares to an average of $47,198 for all vehicles that month.

Electric vehicle tax credits could help you get this technology into your price range, but there are rules about which cars qualify. As production ramps up, EV prices are likely to fall. But it could still take years.

On the other hand, as standards in California increase from 2026, gas-powered cars will become rarer there. This could increase the prices of these new and used models, Brauer says. If you want to stick with a gas-powered model for a while yet, he suggests planning that purchase as soon as possible, if you can afford it.

“If there’s anything to remember now, you should probably buy your traditional vehicle before 2026 because their price will only go up,” Brauer says.

Which car fits your life?

If you’re considering switching to an electric vehicle, there are a few other factors you’ll need to consider, including how far you’ll travel, whether you can charge it easily, and what you’ll be using the car for.

When it comes to infrastructure for electric vehicles, not all hometowns are created equal. If you live in Los Angeles, you might know of several charging stations nearby that you could use to power your car for your daily commute. But this is not yet the case everywhere.

The distance you can travel on a single charge, as well as the variety of electric vehicles available, will continue to improve over time, Caldwell said in a phone interview.

“We’re still in the early stages of EV adoption,” Caldwell says. “Electric vehicles are going to become more mainstream. There will be more infrastructure. I think that’s what ordinary people are going to notice.

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