New California laws will mean stricter smog tests, phase-out of gasoline cars by 2035

The strictest state in the union in terms of emissions and fuel economy is about to put the hammer down on gasoline cars. Two laws introduced in California this week will crack down on emissions cheats and fossil fuels. It’s already a hard state to own a older, classic or modified car in, but here’s what owners will have to look forward to.

First, the state agency overseeing emissions testing is going after smog check stations that pass cars they’re not supposed to. In California, owners of cars built in 1976 or later are subject to a biennial emissions test. Failed cars don’t get their registration renewal stickers, which means they’re no longer street legal. Results are already sent directly to the DMV.

But news came on August 23 that the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) will soon require web cameras and biometric verification at smog check stations. The cameras will let BAR randomly look in on any smog test, just to make sure the testing station isn’t doing anything fishy to pass cars that should be failing. The biometric verifications, such as fingerprint scanners, mean that only verified staff at the testing station will be able to operate the test equipment.

Let’s just state for the record that we do not condone any illegal activity or cheating the smog testing system. However, we have heard that owners of cars in danger of failing smog checks, especially modified ones, have in the past sought out “friendly” testing stations to take their cars. The testing staff had methods of fudging results for a couple of Benjamins. With the cameras and biometrics, it’s going to be much harder to fool the system.

On Thursday, the California Air Resources Board (ironically, CARB) is expected to pass a rule that, by 2035, will allow only the sale of zero-emission new cars by 2035. Now before everyone freaks out, let us point out that the ban only applies to new car sales. Gasoline-powered used cars will still be able to be sold, and internal combustion cars will still be legal to drive.

However, California ranks first in new car sales among the 50 states, and this will send a big signal to automakers. If you want to sell cars in California, they’ll have to be electric, hydrogen, or have some other kind of zero-emissions powertrain. Many other states follow California’s lead, and within hours Washington state adopted a similar law.

None of this should come as a surprise. The writing’s been on the wall for years, and many car companies were pledging the end of internal combustion engines already long before California’s new rules. It’s safe to say that this is a net positive for the environment and thus humankind. Nevertheless, it’s not difficult to imagine a future now where gas stations will be fewer and farther between, and the precious dinosaur juice required to power our beloved cars will be harder to find and more expensive.

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13 Responses to New California laws will mean stricter smog tests, phase-out of gasoline cars by 2035

  1. Nigel says:

    And there it is… “The Last Chase” starts in Cali.

  2. Land Ark says:

    From what I have been able to determine, California is relying on the free market to address what happens with non-serviceable batteries. And I’ve seen that there is one company that is going to be doing it – so far anyway. I don’t think the state has a real plan for what to do or really has an understanding for the scale of how many batteries will be in all new vehicles sold in CA after just a couple years. Sure they probably think they have a few years to figure it out, but in reality, there are already a massive number of EVs on the road now and with the looming requirement many brands will likely start the rollout of a full EV lineup early.
    EVs are likely not going to be the golden goose many think they will be since the impact from exponentially increased demand for battery materials will eventually be understood. Once that happens, it’ll be on to the next solution.

    • MikeRL411 says:

      Already used EV batteries are being reformed and though of lower capacity are being sold for solar standby power systems,

  3. Clay says:

    Carbon-neutral liquid fuels are showing promise for internal combustion engines. Hydrogen in a liquid compound could use existing pipelines and gas stations. Hydrogen can be reacted with other elements to form a liquid. (Compressing hydrogen takes too much energy and hydrogen embrittles metals and leaks out of most pipes so H2 is impractical.)

  4. Crown says:

    Auto manufacturers will be happy about this. It takes far less parts, which means less labor, to build EV’s.
    That will translate into more $$ for manufacturers.

  5. Hansjorg says:

    This is just another reason why I am glad I don’t live in the glorious state of California anymore.
    While living there, we titled all of our “fun-cars”, including JDMs, in WA. Never had a problem.
    Now we live in PA, which makes it really easy to title, register and enjoy our older cars.
    Due to my age, I am not to worried about facing out NEW gasoline-powered cars by 2035. LOL. By then, my heirs will be able to enjoy the cars of my little collection, which are NOT EVs.

    • N97LT says:

      I hear you loud and clear. I will be worm food before the internal combustion vehicles are gone. All manor of motorcycles, cars, trucks and airplanes have been an integral part of my life. I pity the future generations who will never experience what I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.

  6. speedie says:

    People used to ride horses to work once. Now they ride them for pleasure and fun. The world is forever changing.

  7. Xs10shl says:

    Simply legislating a transfer of harmful emissions from one industry to another.

    Legislating carbon-neutral cows by 2035- now THAT would be doing something about greenhouse gases!

  8. socarboy says:

    Time will tell how the EV development will play out world wide. I would like to see EV’s with
    common design quick change batteries because eventually ALL batteries fail. Also the EV will compete with the Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) vehicle so we will see which one will ultimately win out. Kind of like the old video cassette competition between Beta vs VHS.

    Commercial trucking is looking towards HFC big rigs because of their comparable fuel time to diesel. Of course Toyota has its Muri which supposedly shares its platform with the new Toyota Crown

  9. MikeRL411 says:

    So! Now bootleggers will be churning out gasoline substitutes instead of white lightning’ Won’t have to toss the first methanol contaminated runs.

  10. Alan says:

    And literally the next day the state asks electric car owners not to charge their vehicles.

    Never mind that very basic science explains that this move will do absolutely nothing to curb emissions.

    Ah, government, is there nothing you can’t fuck up?

  11. f31roger says:

    I love California… but it makes it hard to be car enthusiast with all the red tape.


    How about spend money on getting the high speed rail going and find better ways to cut down traffic.. let us not forget crime and homelessness.

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