California’s zero-emissions auto bill would price out the middle class

Proposed legislation in California to ban internal combustion engines in new automobiles would make new cars exclusive toys for the wealthy, price and salary data show. A review of zero-emission vehicle data shows even the least expensive options cost two-thirds of the average American salary.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of automobiles with internal combustion engines starting in 2040. The bill expands on Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of having 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025.

Zero-emission requirements, however, would price many – and perhaps most – people out of the new-car market. The smallest and least expensive zero-emission vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, have a base-model price of approximately $30,000. For context, the median American worker’s salary is approximately $44,000 per year. Similar conventional engine vehicles like the Nissan Versa and Chevy Cruze sell for less than half that price. Moreover, the Chevy Volt’s battery range, for example, is only 51 miles, after which the owner must either engage in a lengthy recharge or switch to the vehicle’s gasoline backup (which would be banned under the proposed bill).

Many Americans already cannot afford the $14,000 or so to purchase a new, small, fuel-efficient vehicle like the Chevy Cruze. Escalating entry-level new car prices above $30,000 would make it extremely difficult for even the middle class to purchase new cars.

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CFACT defends the environment and human welfare through facts, news, and analysis.