Will Gas Cars Be Banned in Europe (and California) in About 20 Years?

By · July 28, 2017

It’s becoming easier to imagine a world where electric cars dominate the road.

In a sign that world governments in about two decades will require all new cars to run purely on electricity, Britain announced on Wednesday that sales of new diesel and gas cars would end by 2040. This follows a similar pledge by France earlier this month; previous statements by Norway and India that it will only sell electric cars by 2025 and 2030 respectively; and Volvo announcing that it will soon start phasing out cars that use internal combustion engines without any assistance from battery packs.

Chris Grayling, the British secretary of transportation, said the government aimed to make “nearly every” car on the road zero-emissions by 2050—with some provisions allowing motorists to drive hybrid gas-electric cars for some time.

In Norway, approximately 40 percent of all cars sold in the country last year were electric or hybrid vehicles. Approximately 10 other countries—including Austria, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Korea and Spain—have officially set aggressive sales targets for electric cars.

The movement away from internal-combustion vehicles and towards those powered by electricity is also happening at the regional and city level. Madrid, Munich and Stuttgart are among those cities considering a ban on diesel vehicles—after European governments for a generation have used tax breaks to incentivize sales of vehicles with diesel engines.

In the United States, California is in the vanguard of a similar EV movement—especially considering that 13 US states follow California's stricter emissions standards. The state’s zero-emissions vehicle mandate aims to make 15 percent of all new cars either pure battery-electric or powered by hydrogen fuel cells by 2025.

The 13 states following California’s zero-emissions standards are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

In 2016, electric cars made up only about three percent of new car sales. To achieve California Governor Jerry Brown’s goal of putting 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the state’s roads by 2025, about one out of six (or 15 percent) of cars must have no tailpipe. At that point, the targets significantly ramp up. Between 2040 and 2050, nearly 100 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in California must be zero emissions to meet the state’s long-term climate goals.

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