Save for later Print Download Share LinkedIn Twitter California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday that would ban new sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles within 15 years -- a move that would vastly hasten the decline of fuel consumption in a large slice of the US oil market. Newsom's order directs the California Air Resources Board to enact regulations mandating that 100% of in-state sales of new passenger vehicles are zero-emission by 2035. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales would also need to be 100% zero-emission by 2045 "where feasible." The Democratic governor characterized the order as "the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” with the urgency for climate action accelerating in response to severe wildfires currently raging in the state. The transportation sector represents the largest share of energy consumption in California, at around 40% in recent years, according to Energy Information Administration data. Besides climate change, California has many other motivations to ban conventional cars. Single-occupancy car trips are a norm for daily commuting in major cities, and public transit usage in California was low even before Covid-19. As a result, urban traffic jams have spanned for miles, especially before the pandemic. California drivers also tend to pay higher prices at the pump than other states. Transportation makes up more than half of the state's carbon dioxide emissions and 80% of smog-forming pollution. Newsom noted that communities near the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley "see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country." This is mostly due to vehicle pollution, since coal has been largely phased out in California's power sector. Nationwide, transportation also represents the biggest chunk of US greenhouse gas emissions, having overtaken the power sector three years ago (OD Aug.24'20). California already has the toughest environmental requirements on vehicle pollution in the country. The order comes alongside the state's zero-emission vehicle standard, a low-carbon fuel standard promoting cleaner liquid fuels, and the inclusion of transport emissions in the state's carbon market. High Hurdles Zero-emission passenger vehicles that would qualify under California's ICE ban include plug-in hybrids, pure battery-electrics, and fuel-cell electrics. Although these vehicle segments are seeing major strides in terms of costs, refueling infrastructure and driving range, they still have a ways to go on each of these fronts before they can fully compete with ICE vehicles and win over vehicle buyers. The cheapest electric vehicles are still priced several thousand dollars above comparable gasoline cars such as the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. Still, Newsom was quick to assure consumers that the order would benefit their pocketbooks in the long run. "By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel-powered cars," the governor argued. "The up-front cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car -- both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile-for-mile -- is far less than a fossil fuel-burning vehicle." Burgeoning Bans California is far from the only jurisdiction to set an end date for conventional vehicle sales. China -- the world's largest auto market -- has also said it is studying a ban on gasoline cars, and would likely test the ban in major cities first. China hasn't provided a time frame or any specifics, although many industry players and observers believe it would fall sometime in the 2030-40 period. A slew of European countries have set an ICE phase-out date or are in advanced discussions to do so. The UK even signaled earlier this year that it intends to accelerate the start of its ban on new conventional gasoline and diesel car sales to 2030-35, five to 10 years earlier than originally planned. Conventional car bans are also under way or under consideration in India, Egypt, Israel, Taiwan, Singapore and Costa Rica, among others, along with several individual cities. Lauren Craft, Washington Planned ICE Vehicle Bans Country Announced Commences Costa Rica 2019 2050 France 2017 2040 Iceland 2018 2030 Ireland 2018 2030 Israel 2018 2030 Netherlands 2017 2030 Norway 2017 2025 Slovenia 2017 2030 Sri Lanka 2017 2030 Sweden 2018 2030 Taiwan 2018 2040 UK 2020 2035 Only includes most advanced plans.