Earlier this week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) enacted new rules with huge implications. Come 2035, with few exceptions, only new “zero emissions” cars and pickups can be sold in the Golden State. That will include many Class C motorhomes. It’s expected that another 15 states will follow California’s lead.
By 2045, most Class A motorhome sales will see the same fate. The only “gas burning” engine vehicles exempted from the ban will be “plug-in hybrid” units that will still be allowed under the 2035 ban. What will happen to RVers? What about other related services that could have a deep impact under the new regulations?
If you already own one…
First, let’s talk about a little of the fine print of the new regulations. If you already have a fossil-fuel-burning engine car, truck, or motorhome, California won’t stop you from driving them. Even after 2035, anyone who wants to buy or sell a used gas or diesel burning rig will be free to do so. The ban strictly applies to new vehicles.
But the new regulations raise plenty of questions. Will the “zero emissions” push serve to mean “zero services” in related fields? Under CARB’s ruling, just two years from now, in 2024, a greater percentage of new “zero emissions” vehicles will be required to be sold, ramping up each year, until only the clean-air vehicles are allowed. Just imagine that when 2035 rolls around, what if, say, 80% of cars and pickups in California don’t require gas or diesel? Will most existing “gas stations” pull their fuel pumps and substitute E.V. charging stations?
If that were the case, will you need to drive your motorhome or your pickup pulling your trailer miles and miles to find a suitable fuel station? Pulling into a 7-Eleven may still find you able to grab a Slurpee, but what about a tank of regular? Or what if that dreadful “check engine light” blinks on while you’re on the RV road. If the majority of vehicles on the road don’t run on gas or diesel, will you be able to find an engine repair technician close enough to help you? And even if you do, will they be so booked up that you could wait weeks—even months—to get the service you need?
Not limited to California
We can hear what some may be thinking: “Oh, forget it. It’s just California. I don’t live there, and don’t plan on going there.” Consider the saying, “Where California goes, others follow.” It’s early in the game, but here’s a list of other states that already plan to follow California’s lead—and you can be sure more will join as time rolls by.
- Colorado: Wants 100% renewable energy vehicles by 2040.
- Connecticut: By 2025, the Constitution State wants 125,000 – 150,000 electric vehicles on its roads.
- Delaware: Has already said it will adopt California’s regulations.
- “Maine Won’t Wait” is the state’s motto on clean-air emissions. It wants 200,000 zero-emissions cars and trucks on the highway by 2030.
- Maryland has its own “Clean Car Program.” Under this program, the Old Line State can readily adopt California’s regulations.
- Massachusetts: Officials say the state will adopt and put in place California’s clean engine regulations.
- Minnesota: The state already adopted California’s emissions rules, back in 2021. It’s not a shoo-in—some state lawmakers are balking at what’s happened and want to back out.
- New Jersey: Has its own plans on pumping up the number of zero-emissions vehicles. It wants 85% of new “light duty” vehicles sold there to be EVs by 2040.
- New Mexico: Last month the state’s Clean Car Rule became the standard. The state will start phasing out gas engine powered cars, trucks, and SUVs in 2026.
- New York: A new law would phase in non-gas-powered cars and trucks. With the California rule official, New York’s law is in effect.
- Oregon: Says it wants 90% of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission by 2035.
- Rhode Island’s governor signed a joint letter with a total of 12 state governors asking President Joe Biden to support phasing out gas-powered cars by 2035.
- Vermont: The Green Mountain State wants to go green. It says by 2025, more than 5 percent of new vehicles sold in Vermont will be required to be zero-emission.
- Washington state: Jumps California’s regulations. A new law requires that all cars registered in the state be electric by 2030.
It’s early in the news cycle. We asked for comments from industry groups, including California’s recreational vehicle dealers, and the groups representing retail fuel sellers, and automotive repair technicians. While we haven’t heard back from them, we’ll let you know what they have to say when we do.
We did hear back from the national group RV Dealers Association. Phil Ingrassia is the association’s president. While he told us the RVDA has no official position on the California rules, he did speak about the subject in general terms. RVDA had discussions with California’s rulemakers, and raised concerns about the issues such as battery production, and the availability of raw materials. Was CARB certain their energetic timeline would work? CARB responded that “technology will catch up” with the demands of the rules.
Ingrassia pointed out that major RV manufacturers and suppliers were already working on electric-driven motorhomes, and zero-emissions drive units for towables. Speaking of California’s move, he told us, “This will accelerate that pace of change for RV owners.” He added, “We continue to work as an industry to operate in the environment that’s there.” At the same time, he admitted that the entire picture of how things will play out just isn’t clear.
How do you feel?
Yes, things do appear a bit nebulous. With California leading as the engine of change, and other states following, where does this leave you? Do you feel comfortable buying a new toad car, pickup truck for towing, or a motorhome now? If there is a paucity of fueling stations and repair facilities, are you willing to stick out your neck on a fossil-fuel-engine-run rig? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Please drop us a reply using the form below, and write “California rules” on the subject line.