Reaching Full Charge: How California’s Charging Infrastructure Investments Can Enable 100 Percent Light-Duty Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035

Transportation remains the single largest contributor of climate change-causing carbon emissions in California and a significant driver of dangerous air pollution. 

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Transportation remains the single largest contributor of climate change-causing carbon emissions in California and a significant driver of dangerous air pollution. To protect our planet and California residents from harmful emissions, Governor Gavin Newsom issued executive order N-79-20 in 2020 requiring that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Advanced Clean Car II program lays out a clear pathway to meeting Governor Newsom’s target by increasing light-duty ZEV sales—including battery electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid EVs, and fuel cell vehicles—to approximately 35 percent by 2026, 68 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2035. This significant increase in electric vehicles (EVs) will require a corresponding increase in EV charging infrastructure throughout the state.

NRDC, together with Atlas Public Policy and Dean Taylor Consulting, analyzed current and proposed EV infrastructure investments in California and found that they should be sufficient to support this EV ramp-up and the state’s public, workplace, and shared multiunit dwelling charging needs over the next five years. If California continues to accelerate its investment trends, it could also be on a path to meet its EV and EV infrastructure goals for 2030 and beyond.

While current charging infrastructure investment trends are promising, there is little room for error. California’s agencies including the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and CARB must continue working in partnership to establish infrastructure policies and goals and to reduce all barriers to meeting California’s charging infrastructure needs.