Is California Banning the Sale of Gas-Powered RVs?
The State is One of 14 Planning to Ban All Non-Electric Cars Starting 2035
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is officially rolling out a new set of regulations that could dramatically impact the future of gas-powered vehicles in the state and the country as a whole. The CARB has announced that it is implementing a plan first put forward by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020 that would ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035. But does that mean the state will also ban the sale of gas- or diesel-powered RVs? The short answer is no—at least for now.
Phasing Out ICEs
Newsom’s plan calls for all new passenger vehicles sold in California to produce zero emissions by 2035. But he and the CARB members know there is a lot to accomplish between now and then if they hope to enforce that ban. To achieve that goal, the governor has committed $10 billion to help build a more extensive charging network for electric vehicles (EV) and offer incentives to Californians shopping for a new car. Currently, those incentives include a $7,000 credit for buying or leasing an EV, with low-income residents receiving an additional $2,500.
But Newsom isn’t just looking to phase out cars and SUVs that come with an internal combustion engine. In addition to banning small gas-powered motors last year, he has already decreed that commercial vehicles with gas and diesel engines—including trucks and vans—will be banned by 2045. That is in addition to a 2018 rule that directs all state transit agencies to operate only electric buses by 2029.
The new regulations hope to phase in gradually over time. The goal is to have 35% of all new passenger vehicles sold in California be electric by 2026. That number jumps to 68% by 2030, ahead of the 2035 deadline. Currently, the state says that roughly 16% of all new cars meet the zero-emissions standard, up from 7.8% in 2020.
As a leader in the push toward more environmentally friendly vehicles, California’s policies are being adopted elsewhere. To date, 13 other states in the US have announced similar regulations that ban the sale of ICE passenger vehicles by the middle of the next decade. According to CARB, that could translate to as much as a 50% drop in pollution produced by cars and light trucks by 2040.
What About RVs?
So what do all of these bans and regulations mean for RVers? For now, not much.
Currently, motorhomes powered by an ICE are not subject to the 2035 ban, as they don’t fall into the category of a passenger vehicle. Nor do they fall under the 2045 ban for commercial trucks and vans. That means, as of this writing, there are no plans to stop selling gas- and diesel-powered RVs in California in the semi-near future.
Because most RVs get used infrequently—and there are far fewer of them on the road—they seem to be currently flying under the radar for most regulatory committees. There is a good chance that could change in the future as more and more zero-emission vehicles hit the road. If the 2035 ban remains in place and all new cars sold are EVs, there is a good chance that California and other states will eventually turn their attention to gas-powered motorhomes too.
Fortunately, the RV industry hasn’t been oblivious to these potential changes. In 2022 alone, we’ve seen a number of electric motorhomes and camper vans make their debut. There has also been a growing number of travel trailers designed to be lighter and easier to tow behind an EV. These models will take some time to perfect and come to market, but major brands are already moving in that direction.
A Ban on Sales
It is important to point out that all of the upcoming bans are for the sale of new vehicles and don’t prohibit the use of existing cars and trucks with ICEs. In other words, if you already own a gas-powered vehicle, you’ll still be able to continue driving it, even after the ban takes effect.
This is the same approach California took with its ban on gas-powered generators last year. Those devices are no longer for sale within the state, but if you already own one, you can continue to use it. However, when purchasing a new power solution for use at the campsite, the state directs consumers toward emission-free options.
For now, it looks like gas- and diesel-powered motorhomes will remain exempt from these bans. Whether or not that continues to be the case remains to be seen. Hopefully, if motorhomes do eventually fall under these regulations, there will be plenty of electric replacement models to choose from.