Zero Emission Vehicles 2035: Reality Or Fiction? (US/EU)

While many of us share a strong interest in promoting a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly future, the evolution of transportation remains an area of speculation.

Some projections suggest that by 2035, all new cars and vans could potentially be zero-emission vehicles.

However, it’s important to note that such a transition if it is to become a reality, is dependent on various factors, including political will and legislative action.

While it’s true that the EU has a mandate in place to meet the 2035 zero-emission vehicle deadline, others like the US lack such national directives as of now.

It must also be borne in mind that the world’s less developed economies will not be capable of achieving 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035, although they are projected to do so at a later date.

Hence, although promising and exciting for our planet’s future, 100% new zero-emission vehicles by 2035 is not an absolute certainty but rather a hopeful possibility for our future transport landscape in certain parts of the world, with the rest to follow.

In this blog post I’ll summarise the situation as it stands with the EU, where the 2035 target is real, and the US where it’s partially real.


Key Takeaways

1.The European Commission and certain US states are pushing for a transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2035 to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
2.The European Commission has announced that all new vehicles sold from 2035 must be zero-emission, supported by plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% from 2021 levels by 2030.
3.States like California, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut have set regulations requiring a significant percentage of new vehicle sales to be zero-emission models starting as early as 2025/2026 leading up to a complete transition by 2035.
4.The Federal Fleet Plan in the US sets a trajectory for acquiring zero-emission vehicles, with General Motors (GM) also planning to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Agencies may need to acquire about 30,000 ZEVs each year leading up to this deadline.

The Global Momentum Towards Zero-Emission Vehicles

The world is on the brink of a revolution in the automotive industry, pivoting towards sustainable transportation.

This paradigm shift is being fueled by the collective effort to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A key player in this transformative journey is the zero emission vehicle, paving the way for a greener future.

This global transition isn’t confined to isolated pockets. It’s a worldwide movement, with countries across Europe and states across the United States taking tangible steps towards realizing this goal.

By 2035, many minds envision that all new cars and vans being sold will have zero emissions.

States such as California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon are leading this transition in the US.

These states are promoting not just electric cars but also other forms of sustainable transportation like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

They’re making strides towards becoming carbon neutral territories with green automotive industries.

Strict Emission Targets Set by the European Commission for 2035

The European Commission has been proactive in setting emission targets to foster eco-friendly transport across member countries.

The commission has mandated that all new vehicles sold from 2035 must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).

This bold policy stance aligns with their plan to slash CO2 emissions by an impressive 55% from their levels in 2021 within the span of just nine years—by 2030.

These stringent regulations set by Europe demonstrate a strong commitment to renewable energy transportation solutions and low carbon footprint cars.

Their ambitious goals serve as an inspiration not only for member countries but also other parts of the globe striving for cleaner air and healthier environments.

The ultimate aim? To create a lasting legacy of climate-conscious vehicle production and usage that contributes significantly to mitigating global warming impacts. The dream of driving emission-free automobiles is set to become reality sooner than many thought possible!

Federal Fleet Plan and State Initiatives in the USA

In sync with EU’s progressive stance on CO2 emissions reduction, similar rules are shaping up across US territories under what’s known as the Federal Fleet Plan.

The Federal Fleet Plan, essentially lays out an acquisition trajectory for zero-emission vehicles leading up to that critical year—2035.

On the other hand, states such as California and New York have undertaken initiatives requiring a significant percentage of new vehicle sales to be ZEV models starting from as early as 2025/2026.

These efforts lay down a foundation for complete transition towards ZEVs by the year 2035 in these particular U.S. states.

In addition, automakers like General Motors have expressed intent to sell only zero-emission vehicles by the year 2035 mirroring these states’ ambitious plans.

Unveiling Zero-Emission Plans of General Motors and Other Automakers

General Motors (GM), one of America’s largest automakers plans on completely transitioning its fleet into electric cars by no later than year 2035. Their announcement demonstrates how seriously a growing number of automakers are taking their role in reducing CO₂ emissions.

GM’s commitment represents more than just a company-specific initiative; it sends out ripples throughout the entire automotive industry potentially influencing other manufacturers who might follow suit.

While GM may be one among many car manufacturers embracing the green revolution, its pledge is particularly noteworthy due to its sheer size.

Both in terms of vehicle production volumes and market capitalization size, GM could potentially lead competitors down similar paths, thereby creating a ripple effect throughout the entire automotive sector.

State-Specific Goals: Adoption of The 2035 ZEV Target

The U.S. does not currently have a national plan that mandates 100% of new light duty vehicles to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. On the other hand it has set the target of 50% ZEVs by 2030.

However, California, the only state able to set its own emissions standards, has indeed mandated 100% of new light duty vehicle sales to be ZEV by 2035.

In addition to California, twelve other US states have chosen to adopt California’s more ambitious target over the Department of Energy’s target.

These states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. 

This group of states accounts for approximately 25% of new car sales in the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency.

The types of zero-emissions vehicles involved in the transition.

Transitioning away from traditional fuel-powered automobiles involves several types of ZEVs, including battery-electric and fuel-cell electric models.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) harness power from rechargeable batteries. These automobiles don’t burn gasoline or produce tailpipe pollution.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs): FCEVs convert the chemical potential energy from hydrogen and oxygen into electricity using fuel cells. Their only emission is water vapour.

Unlike BEVs, FCEVs can offer longer driving ranges and faster refueling times. This makes them a good fit for long-distance haulage and heavy-duty applications where weight and payload capacity are critical factors to consider.

Embracing a CO₂-Free Automotive Future, Starting from 2035 Onwards.

As humanity races against time to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the increasing adoption of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) seems both inevitable and a necessary step forward.

This is in line with achieving global commitments to reducing greenhouse gases and mitigating the effects of global warming. There may be challenges along this path, especially with regards to current technological limitations and infrastructure readiness.

However, governments around the world, along with private sector partners, seem determined to overcome these hurdles. They aim to make the vision of zero emissions a reality within the next decade.

This shared determination, coupled with concerted international efforts, provides hope.

Perhaps we are closer than ever before in realizing the dream of living in a world free from harmful vehicular pollution—a world powered by clean renewable energies where every journey contributes rather than detracts from the sustainability of our planet.

Jonathan Rice

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