California has always lead the way, if not pushed and shoved its way to a cleaner environment when it comes to smog laws and vehicle emissions policy. In the last year they have cut through the crowd once again by ruling that all new light cars and trucks sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

The new California Advanced Clean Cars II standards will require that all new cars, SUVs and light trucks begin a phased-in transition to zero-emission starting in 2026 when 35% of sales must meet the requirement. Over the following decade each year raises the bar until 100% of sales must be zero-emission at 2035.

This means that at year 2035, there will be no more brand-new conventional internal combustion powered cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in California. A zero-emission vehicle as defined by the requirements includes plug-in hybrids (PHEV), full battery-electrics (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

This means that some gasoline powered vehicles can still be sold provided they are a plug-in hybrid and have a minimum all-electric range of at least 50 miles. There’s a catch though, the total of plug-in hybrids cannot be more than 20% of the total sales. The remaining 80% of sales must be battery-electric or hydrogen fuel.

To meet the rules, battery-electric vehicles must have a minimum range of 150 miles, must have fast-charging capability standard, include a charging cord and meet more stringent warranty coverage and battery life requirements.

A vehicle must maintain at least 80% of it’s electric range for 10 years or 150,000 miles and powertrain components must be warranted for at least 3 years or 50,000 miles. The latter most car companies already meet or exceed.

To be clear for those in a panic, existing internal combustion cars and light trucks will still be legal to own, drive and sell. Additionally the sale of used internal combustion vehicles can and will continue even for current model years after 2035. This means that for those who just can’t or won’t buy a zero-emission vehicle, dealers can still bring used internal-combustion vehicles in from out of state to sell. You will still be able to buy them, just not brand new.

For those who haul and tow, medium duty trucks over an 8500 pound GVWR are not required to meet the 100% zero- emission rules. Basically this means that sales of internal combustion powered 3/4-ton and heavier pickups will continue to an extent. Medium and heavy duty trucks are subject to the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation which requires that only 55% be zero-emission 2035 and there will be more stringent emissions standards for the remaining fraction of gas and diesel powered trucks sold.

You might say, “I don’t live in California so who cares what they do. This won’t affect what I can buy in Kentucky”. Not so fast. Some 17 states around the country follow and adopt California’s vehicle emissions rules and are expected to follow these. In total these 18 states make up about 40% of all U.S. new car sales.

No matter where you live today, if you look at any new-car window sticker you will find a line item that says “50 State Emissions”. This means that while your state might not have the toughest standards, the car companies decided a long time ago that it made the best financial sense to engineer all cars to meet them. So, even if you live in Kentucky, your car already meets California standards.

Going forward what California’s new regulations are essentially going to mean for everyone is that car companies are making a wholesale move to zero-emission vehicles. Period. It has never made sense nor will it ever to engineer one set of vehicles for some states, and another line of vehicles for another set of states. Won’t happen.

Most car companies have already announced they intend to transition to all-electric or a mix of zero-emission vehicles within the next decade already. This was already going to happen regardless of what California is following states are doing.

So if you live in Kentucky, or anywhere else here’s what’s coming

By the end of this decade expect that if a new car, truck or SUV has a gasoline engine, it will be a plug-in hybrid and have at least a 50-mile all-electric range. This is a good thing, a major improvement over what’s on the market now.

By the end of this decade expect that most brands we know now will only offer battery-electric vehicles. New EV brands are already here like Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, Polestar and more are on the way. Most traditional vehicle brands have already stated they plan to be zero-emission within 10-15 years and most already have electric models available for sale.

By the end of this decade the used car market will be changing and evolving. There will be a giant sucking sound of used internal combustion powered vehicles getting bought up and shipped to dealers in zero-emission states to meet a new demand of buyers who refuse electric or plug-in hybrids. This likely means more expensive used cars everywhere as demand will no longer be local, but national. Time will tell.

Some might ask, how are people going to afford all these expensive plug-in hybrids and electric cars? In the California regulations, there are a number of subsidy programs and incentives to help soften the blow of the cost for low-income buyers. This is only a band-aid however.

In the medium term, this could be a turbulent time in the vehicle market nationwide as the demand shifts from one thing to another. The balloon will be squeezed here and it will expand over there. There might even be an unexpected pop somewhere along the way.

In the long term, costs for zero-emission vehicles will eventually come down as technologies, manufacturing and consumer adoption all progress – just as they did a century ago at the dawn of the motorized carriage itself.

At the end of the day, this is change. It’s going to happen. Debate the right and wrong of it all you want, but it’s happening. It’s happening in California. It’s happening in the 17 states that follow California. It’s happening everywhere else too.