Expert Pitch

2035 gas cars ban ‘aspirational,’ infrastructure requires legislation

Cornell University
25-Sep-2020 8:05 AM EDT, by Cornell University

This week, the Governor of California announced the state will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks in 2035 — a move that is putting pressure on auto companies to boost their efforts to develop electric vehicles. But widespread adoption of EVs is going to require more than automakers to step up their game.

Arthur Wheaton, an expert on the automotive industry at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations says the challenge with this 15-year timeline won’t be the technology automakers use to build electric vehicles, it will be in ensuring adequate infrastructure to charge the vehicles and generate enough electricity. That, he says, will require more legislation.


Wheaton says:

“The move by the California Governor to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars is aspirational. However, the technology for electric vehicles has made great progress in the past decade. It is reasonable to assume that within 15 years the infrastructure to charge the large-scale needs of an all-electric fleet could be built. This of course assumes additional state, city and federal funding and incentives.

“The technology for the automakers is not the barrier. The infrastructure to recharge and generate the electricity is not there yet but could be with legislation. It is important to remember that these aspirational long-term goals are always subject to changes and delayed implementation. 

“The global automakers have been investing in electric and alternative vehicles as nearly every country in the world (except the U.S.) has pledged to help combat climate change. China and Europe are passing or have passed legislation requiring more electric vehicles.

“It is important to note that California’s 2035 ban does not ban the use of gasoline cars, only new sales. There could be a big push to sell the last remaining gas vehicles closer to implementation for those not wanting to make the change. Cars today last around 10 years for the average consumer so it is closer to 2045 before the fleet is nearly all electric.”

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