On Monday, Washington and Oregon officially joined California in requiring that all new vehicles sold in the states are zero-emitting by 2035. The rule covers passenger cars, light-duty vehicles, and medium-duty vehicles such as larger pick-up trucks and SUVs. It does not apply to used vehicles.
The mandate kicks in gradually. It starts with model year 2026, requiring that 35% of new passenger vehicle sales are EVs. Then it increases by 6-9% each year until all vehicles covered by the rule must be zero emissions. Qualifying vehicles can be EV, solar-powered, or plug-in hybrid vehicles if they can cover at least 50 miles on battery power.
Vermont has also adopted the California rules, and experts say that a dozen additional states are expected to follow suit.
In Washington, EVs made up 11% of new vehicle sales last month, up from 6% for November 2021, according to the state’s Department of Licensing.
There are 34 all-electric models for sale in the U.S. this year, reports Car and Driver, with more than two dozen additional models rolling out by the end of 2024.
Two incentives in Washington support EV purchases:
- The $7,500 federal tax credit, which applies to certain vehicles
- Up to $1,300 of exemptions from state motor vehicle sales and use taxes for new vehicles costing up to $45,000
California’s EV sales requirement — known as Advanced Clean Cars II — includes additional rules to reduce vehicle pollution, such as EV performance and durability mandates and incentives. Washington also adopted rules requiring heavy-duty truck manufacturers to curb the amount of smog-forming pollution that’s emitted by their new combustion-engine trucks.
“Joining other states in adopting these clean vehicles rules is an important and necessary step along the way to achieving our climate goals, cutting air pollution, and freeing ourselves from dependence on volatile and high gas and diesel prices,” said Leah Missik, transportation policy manager at the nonprofit Climate Solutions, by email.
There are still challenges to quickly ramping up the widespread adoption of EVs. The vehicles are expensive for many consumers, though experts note that there are savings over time thanks to lower fuel prices and less expensive maintenance costs.
Vehicle charging can be a hurdle for drivers without the ability to plug in at home or work. Government agencies are developing and implementing plans to deploy charging infrastructure in communities and along major highways.
And in Washington, some drivers have shared concerns about the high cost of licensing fees for EVs. Because EV drivers don’t pay gasoline taxes that help maintain and build roadways, the state has sought other means to cover those costs — including licensing fees. The Washington State Transportation Commission is exploring a “road usage charge” that would set fees based on EV drivers’ use of public roads, rather than flat fees.
Washington lawmakers earlier this year set a goal of reaching 100% EV sales by 2030.