California to eliminate gas burning cars by 2050?
California regulator Mary Nichols is looking to transform the auto industry. In order to meet emissions reductions in California, the state will need 100% of vehicles to be zero emissions or almost zero emissions by 2050. As a practical matter, that means that all vehicles sold in California will need to be battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles by 2030. The conventional internal combustion engine will be a thing of the past and California will eliminate gas burning cars.
Will this be technologically feasible? Yes, all three technologies are available now and offered to the public. The current limitation for the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is range and charging infrastructure. Battery improvements have meant that acceptable range of almost 300 miles to a charge is available at a high price with the Tesla, and more affordable 200 mile range vehicles are expected in 2017. Charging infrastructure is growing by leaps and bounds. With electrical supply available in almost all but the most remote areas, making chargers available is often a matter of running wires and installing the chargers.
Fuel Cell vehicles don’t have the range issues that BEVs have, but the infrastructure doesn’t exist. California plans to build more fuel stations but they cost 10 times or more the cost of a DC Fast charger for a BEV. The method of generating hydrogen can also be an issue. It takes four times the energy to create hydrogen that is zero emission vs using natural gas methods. Natural gas methods don’t cost as much or use as much energy, but don’t reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as much.
Plug in hybrids are a compromise solution that doesn’t give the energy efficiency of a BEV or completely eliminate emissions due to their gas engine. These will probably be the car of choice until BEV technology and costs come down or fuel cell vehicle infrastructure and costs become competitive.
Here’s the link to the original article in Bloomberg: