California’s pollution and air quality-focused agency, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), announced on Thursday the approval of a rule requiring all new car, pickup truck and SUV sales in the state to be zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035.

The new rule, Advanced Clean Cars II, codifies a goal set by California Governor Gavin Newsom in an executive order in 2020, and will likely set a new standard for several states, such as New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, that currently follow California’s vehicle rules, and constitute roughly 40% of new car sales in the U.S.

CARB Chair Liane Randolph, said:

“Once again California is leading the nation and the world with a regulation that sets ambitious but achievable targets for ZEV sales. Rapidly accelerating the number of ZEVs on our roads and highways will deliver substantial emission and pollution reductions to all Californians, especially for those who live near roadways and suffer from persistent air pollution.”

In addition to the 2035 target, the rule provides a year-by-year roadmap for ZEV requirements, starting with ZEVs making up at least 35% in 2026, and hitting 68% in 2030. The rule leaves some room for continued sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), but requires them to have an all-electric range of at least 50 miles under real-world driving conditions, and allows automakers to meet only up to 20% of their overall ZEV requirement with PHEVs.

Transportation, including fuel production, accounts for roughly half of California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and 80% of the state’s air pollutants. According to CARB, the new regulation will cut GHG emissions from cars, pickups and SUVs in half by 2040, contributing significantly to California’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

Commenting on the approval of the new rule, Governor Newsom said:

“This plan’s yearly targets – 35 percent ZEV sales by 2026, 68 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2035 – provide our roadmap to reducing dangerous carbon emissions and moving away from fossil fuels. That’s 915 million oil barrels’ worth of emissions that won’t pollute our communities.”

California’s new rule will still require approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Biden administration has made several moves to accelerate the expansion of zero emission vehicles, including providing tax credits for ZEV purchases in the Inflation Reduction Act, and allocating billions for the development of a national EV charging network. California’s new rule would go significantly further than the administration’s own requirement for ZEVs to make up half of new vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

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