California will require all light-duty autonomous vehicles (AV) to emit zero emissions starting in 2030. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill sponsored by environmental groups that would eventually prohibit gas- and hybrid-powered autonomous vehicles from operating in the state.
It was the latest move by Newsom to restrict the sale and use of internal combustion engine vehicles amid a broader effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the governor signed two executive orders: one requiring all commercial trucks and vans sold in the state to be zero-emission starting in 2045 and another requiring only the sale of zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035.
California was the first state in the US to prohibit the sale of nearly all fossil fuel-burning vehicles in its borders. At least 15 states have followed the state’s lead, passing similar measures that would apply to heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses.
California is the largest vehicle market in the US, with nearly 15 million registered vehicles on the road. AVs only account for a small fraction of that total amount, but some experts predict those numbers will grow as AVs become more capable and companies move to commercialize their use. Other groups have expressed worry that autonomous vehicles could usher in an era of even more traffic and pollution, especially if AVs are priced cheaper than public transportation.