As you know, electrification is accelerating rapidly within the automotive industry at present, and the expectation it will only speed up further. An ever-increasing number of manufacturers are announcing their plans to switch to all-electric vehicle lineups within the next 10 to 15 years – among them GM, Nissan and Volvo. At the same, different levels of government have made their clear their intention to legislate out of existence the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally, the target for that is coalescing around the year 2035.
Here in Canada things are moving as well; in Quebec, things are already set for that year. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last September giving 2035 as the deadline; it even goes so far as to include heavy vehicles as of 2045.
And now the pressure is on at the highest levels of government. Two California senators are calling on President Joe Biden to follow their state's lead, at least when it comes to passenger vehicles.
According to Automotive News, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla sent a letter to the president asking for a national goal of eliminating sales of new gas-engine vehicles by 2035. The letter was not officially made public, but was apparently seen by Reuters, which also reported that the president was asked about setting a national fuel economy standard.
The senators reportedly said that the standard agreed upon between California and a group of automakers in 2019 should be the "absolute minimum." Recall that Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen reached an agreement with the state that includes stricter rules than those set by the Trump administration, but not as stringent as the goals set by the prior Obama administration.
It’s not clear right now if the U.S. administration is considering such measures. The White House has not provided an official response to the letter, although we de know that the Biden administration intends to transition federal vehicle fleets to electric power. Shortly after his inauguration in January, the new president signed the "Made In America" executive order that, among other things, promised the switch to an electric federal fleet.
In Europe, similar measures have already been adopted. In the U.S., if such an approach does see the light of day, you’d have to think it will come from a Democratic administration. The issue remains highly political, however, and making such a decision in a first term is risky. At the same time, it’s not certain that President Biden will actually serve two terms, as he will be 82 years old at the time of the next election.