California’s air regulators unveiled a plan Wednesday that would require about one-third of all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission electric vehicles, or EVs, by 2025.
Note the trucks part of that. This lunacy is only getting started.
The proposal by the California Air Resources Board would require 35% of new passenger vehicles to be powered by batteries or hydrogen by the 2026 model year and 100% of sales to exhibit net-zero emissions by 2035.
That’s a formula for locking millions of Californians out of car ownership, bankrupting car dealerships, and other wonderfully exciting developments.
The board noted that electric vehicle sales in California rose to 12.4% of total sales in 2021, up from 7.8% in 2020.
The median California income is in the $30K range. That’s also the cost of the cheapest electric car.
Under the plan, Californians would still be permitted to own gas-powered vehicles and sell them on the used market.
You just won’t be able to get a new one. Not that you can now anyway.
Fortunately the Air Resources Board has a solution.
The used car market can be a powerful tool in ensuring ZEV access at all income levels. Already, in disadvantaged communities in California, used electric vehicles are purchased at higher rates than new electric vehicles. On average, used electric vehicles cost 43-72 percent less than new ones.
Why might that be?
According to Cox Automotive(opens in new tab) the average price of a used EV in the U.S. is $25,500. While that is still a lot of money to spend in one go, that’s still $1,900 less than the cheapest EV currently on sale in the United States — the $27,400 Nissan Leaf 2022.
$25K isn’t 42% less. And anyone earning $30K can’t afford to buy one.
But the larger reason why used electric cars are a terrible idea is because whatever value you get out of one, the battery is a ticking time bomb. With a new electric car, you’ve got a shot. Battery failure is much of an issue with used electric cars. And what happens then?
The National Post conducted an informal survey of Western Canadian Nissan dealerships to ask the cost of replacing a battery pack on a 2013 Nissan Leaf. Estimates ranged from $8,000 to an eye-watering $30,953.28 plus $1,200 in labour.
Scott Waddle is the owner of Precision Auto Service, a Vancouver-area mechanic specializing in electric vehicles. He says he’s unable to acquire aftermarket batteries direct from Nissan, and thus all of his battery replacements have to be done using salvaged components from written-off vehicles.
In the U.S., the cost can be in the thousands of as high as $20K.
Ensuring access to “disadvantaged communities” means poorer people getting the cast-off cars from the Air Resources Board crowd and then finding out that they can’t afford to maintain or repair them, so that they’re paying twice.