The Writing Is On The Wall For Gas-Powered Cars

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled The Writing Is On The Wall For Gas-Powered Cars
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

California said in September that it would be banning the sale of new cars that aren’t zero emission by 2035, which it should probably just do right now instead of waiting. Anyway, there are now calls for the U.S. as a whole to do pretty much the same thing.

The calls come from the two U.S. senators from ... California.

From Reuters:

In an unreported letter going to Biden Monday, Democratic Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein called on Biden “to follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.” They also urged Biden to restore California’s authority to set clean car standards.


The senators also say Biden should use a compromise deal that California struck with automakers including Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG that falls between the Trump administration and Obama-era requirements.

“We believe the national baseline should, at an absolute minimum, be built around the technical lead set by companies that voluntarily advanced their agreements with California,” Padilla, who replaced Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate, and Feinstein wrote in the letter seen by Reuters. “California and other states need a strong federal partner.”


Now, I won’t pretend to be a soothsayer, nor do I think that there, ultimately, will be any kind of federal ban for 2035, since the federal government is mostly a plodding creature that tracks to the middle. I do believe, however, that there will be tougher emissions regulations under the Biden administration, as the attempted Trump administration rollbacks always seemed doomed to fail in the courts anyway. The wind is only blowing in one direction, and that direction is electric.

What I also know is that the automakers absolutely cannot be trusted with any of this, as, even though Ford, Honda, VW, and BMW agreed to the California framework, that framework is weaker than Obama-era emissions standards, meaning that Ford, Honda, VW, and BMW are doing their own kind of environmentalist performativity.


As for GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and everyone else who sided with Trump until they didn’t, you all can take a long walk off a short pier for not even pretending to care about, you know, the future of the planet and mankind. People like to talk a lot of shit about government car regulations, and a lot of that is justified, but probably the biggest lesson of car history is that automakers don’t do anything in the public interest until they are compelled.