'It's the Right Time': Experts Weigh in on California's Ban on New Gas Cars

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

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Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

California air regulators have passed a ban on new gas-powered vehicle sales that will take effect in 2035.

Governor Gavin Newsom had outlined the plan earlier in the week, but the law is now official. The plan is ambitious—perhaps wildly so—but it continues the tradition of California forging bold new transportation policies that are eventually adopted nationally due to the state’s massive population and economic influence.


“California, for decades—going back to the 1960s—played a useful role in pushing clean technology, particularly with automobile,” says Marlon Boarnet, a professor of public policy and chair of the Urban Planning & Spatial Analysis Department at University of Southern California.

“A lot of what we think about catalytic converters, improved fuel economy, lower emitting engines, were innovated first by mandated regulations in California,” Boarnet says.

In addition to banning all new internal combustion engine vehicle sales by 2035, the law also mandates that 35% of new vehicles sales must be electric by 2026. That number will increase to 51% by 2028 and 68% in 2030.

While Boarnet acknowledges that the policy is extremely bold, he says the timing makes sense for the state. At present California leads the nation in new EV adoption. Currently, 16% of all new cars sales are battery electric, compared to about 4% to 5% nationally. California is also among the leaders in renewable electricity generation. In 2020, nearly 60% of the state’s energy came from renewables, which means a switch to EVs will actually mitigate climate damage.

“Due to this set of factors, the rapid increase in renewable energy, the now rapidly growing market share of electric vehicles, I would argue it's the right time,” says Boarnet.

But is it feasible? Right now, the EV market in America is in pretty ragged shape. Layoffs have affected huge swaths of the tech industry and nascent automakers have not been spared. Companies like Rivian have struggled to hit production targets due to persistent supply chain woes ignited by the pandemic. Many EV manufactures—even Tesla—have been forced to raise prices in the last several months to combat inflation.

But Eleftheria Kontou, a transportation and sustainability researcher at the University of Illinois, says that the policy might actually help to stabilize the market a bit by providing a clear roadmap for manufacturers.

“After COVID-19, there has been a shakeup, right? It’s hard to predict the exact date of the recovery, but having these targets now is important because it helps [manufacturers] prepare accordingly,” says Kontou.

It's also easy to forget that 2035 is still 13 years away. While it’s tempting to extrapolate the industry’s struggles over the last two years into its long term potential, growth in other green energy sectors suggests that would be a mistake.

Since 2009, the price of solar energy has declined by more than 70%. The United States has increased its solar capacity from .34 GW in 2008 to 97.2 GW today. Wind power is down to 2 cents per kilowatt hour.

“A policy like this is really useful in underpinning the long-term expectations,” says Boarnet. “The idea is to send a signal both to auto manufacturers and to potential customers that, long term, EVs are the future.”

There’s still tons of work to be done to ensure that this legislation can actually succeed. Huge questions remain about battery components like cobalt and lithium. Where will the country secure them from? How do we keep costs reasonable? Charging infrastructure also remains woefully scarce in some parts of the country. Even in California, chargers are frequently broken or working far below capacity. Grid stability and capacity will need to be improved (though not nearly to the degree that bad-faith comment section trolls would have you believe).

It’s going to be a massive lift for the state, but Boarnet and Kontou both say the policy is sound overall and will pave the way for other states to get on board.

“This is what California has done and has done successfully,” says Boarnet. “We are the state–basically since the '60s–that has pushed forward clean vehicle technology. I don't want to engage in too much hubris, but it's been pretty successful. This is what I would call a well-thought-through next step.”

🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures
Image Source: Tinder

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Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.


Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110

Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab

Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor


Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo


Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect


MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


KidsX

The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health


Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP


Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space



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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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