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Virginia is required to follow California EV standard, dealers prepare for electric future

FILE - An electric car is charged at the Motor Show in Essen, Germany, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Martin Meissner
An electric car is charged

For many car buyers, finding an electric vehicle can be difficult. But a new Virginia law is about to dramatically transform the landscape of automobile sales.

Don't California my Virginia. That's the bumper sticker slogan for people opposed to the new mandate of a California board that now applies here in Virginia – a requirement that all new automobiles delivered to Virginia will be electric by 2035.

Trip Pollard at the Southern Environmental Law Center says Virginia and other states are making an important decision here.

"Virginia can either follow what the California bureaucrats adopt or we follow what the DC bureaucrats adopt. We cannot make up our own standard," Pollard explains. "But we can choose which of the two we want to follow, and that's what the General Assembly did in 2021 when it decided tailpipe pollution is causing a lot of environmental and health problems. We're going to go with the more protective standard."

Now that the California Air Resources Board has mandated all electric vehicles by 2035, that's the standard for Virginia and other states that went with the more protective standard.

Anne Gambardella at the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association says her members are getting ready for an EV future.

"When you have manufacturers coming on board and saying, 'we’re going to be all electric.' That's what the dealers are looking at is what vehicles are coming down the pike from my manufacturer," Gambardella says. "What am I going to have to sell? How do I make sure my staff and my dealership is ready to sell and service those vehicles?” 

Republicans are hoping they can figure out a way to disentangle Virginia from the California standard, although for now manufacturers are preparing for an all-electric future.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: September 13, 2022 at 4:39 PM EDT
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.