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California Considers Deadline to End Sales of Internal Combustion Vehicles

California, with a bigger car-buying market than either Spain or Italy, is toying with setting a date to end sales of internal combustion engine automobiles, a move that “would send shockwaves through the global car industry,” Bloomberg reports.

Mary Nichols, chair of the powerful California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is responsible for implementing the state’s climate policies, said in an interview that Governor Jerry Brown has been sending her “messages asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’ The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”

In considering such a ban, the state follows in the tyre tracks not only of China, but also Germany, France, Britain, Norway, and the Netherlands, all of which are in various stages of implementing sunset dates between 2025 and 2040 to end the sale of new fossil-burning vehicles.

Still, a ban on internal combustion sales in the state that styles itself the world’s sixth-largest economy, and whose culture engine mythologized the place of the car in American society, would have a powerful symbolic impact—and send an unmistakeable signal to markets.

“If a ban were implemented, automakers from General Motors Co. to Toyota Motor Corporation would be under new pressure to make electric vehicles the standard for personal transportation in the most populous U.S. state, casting fresh doubts on the future of gasoline- and diesel-powered autos elsewhere,” Bloomberg notes.

Such a decision would also further deepen doubts over future demand for gasoline—and the crude oil from which it is refined.