Skip to main content

California will require all autonomous vehicles to be zero-emission starting in 2030

California will require all autonomous vehicles to be zero-emission starting in 2030


Dirty robot cars need not apply

Share this story

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

California will require all light-duty autonomous vehicles (AV) to emit zero emissions starting in 2030. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill sponsored by environmental groups that would eventually prohibit gas- and hybrid-powered autonomous vehicles from operating in the state.

It was the latest move by Newsom to restrict the sale and use of internal combustion engine vehicles amid a broader effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the governor signed two executive orders: one requiring all commercial trucks and vans sold in the state to be zero-emission starting in 2045 and another requiring only the sale of zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035.

California was the first state in the US to prohibit the sale of nearly all fossil fuel-burning vehicles in its borders. At least 15 states have followed the state’s lead, passing similar measures that would apply to heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses.

California is the largest vehicle market in the US

California is the largest vehicle market in the US, with nearly 15 million registered vehicles on the road. AVs only account for a small fraction of that total amount, but some experts predict those numbers will grow as AVs become more capable and companies move to commercialize their use. Other groups have expressed worry that autonomous vehicles could usher in an era of even more traffic and pollution, especially if AVs are priced cheaper than public transportation.

California is ground zero for AV testing in the US, with over 50 companies licensed to operate autonomous vehicles for testing purposes in the state. A handful of companies hold permits to test fully driverless vehicles, without safety drivers behind the steering wheel. And an even smaller number have been approved to pick up and drop off passengers as part of a commercial robotaxi service. AVs registered in California traveled approximately 1.99 million miles in autonomous mode on public roads in 2020.

The two companies that comprise the bulk of that testing, Alphabet’s Waymo and GM-backed Cruise, both operate fully electric vehicles as part of their fleets. Waymo uses the Jaguar I-Pace SUV, as well as the non-electric Chrysler Pacifica minivan, though the company has declined to say exactly how many of each vehicle it owns. Cruise exclusively uses the Chevy Bolt, a vehicle that is currently subject to a massive recall because some of the batteries have been catching fire.

“We’re grateful for California’s leadership in ensuring this will be the industry standard,” said Prashanthi Raman, head of global government affairs at Cruise, in a statement. “The AV industry is primed to lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cities, and it’s why we’ve operated an all-electric, zero emissions fleet from the start.”

Environmental groups praised Newsom for signing the bill into law. The Union of Concerned Scientists, which helped sponsor the legislation, said it was a “smart policy to ensure that driverless vehicles don’t contribute to the problem” of climate change.

Some AV operators have argued that electric vehicles are a bad fit for self-driving cars because of the extended charging requirements. In order to make a profit, autonomous vehicles need to maximize their time on the road, delivering people or packages, otherwise they’re likely to be a money-loser, they argue.

Updated September 24th, 10:59AM ET: Updated to include a statement from Cruise.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.