Should Gas Engines Be Banned?

Smoggy L.A.

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A few years ago we discussed the idea that V8 engines should be outlawed. Of course that never happened, and the idea itself is just a symbol of the direction the auto industry could go.

However, that 2009 article foreshadowed the rise of turbocharged engines and the declining need for a V8. Why get a fuel-thirsty 8-cylinder when a boosted V6 can provide better fuel economy and similar hauling capability?

The idea of outright banning V8 motors is ridiculous. It is possible that the market will slowly erode demand for the V8, but certain groups of buyers will always keep at least a small demand going.

Even the most fuel-efficient gas motors cause pollution, though, and at least one decision-maker in an influential state wants to push things even further.

You may not know the name Mary Nichols, but the head of the California Air Resources Board could have a major impact on what kind of cars are sold in the state. Nichols is a huge advocate for electric cars and fully supports President Obama’s mandate to double average fuel economy to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

She also has one other vision that might not go over very well with commuters and automakers alike:

She’s pushing for regulations that could completely banish the internal combustion engine from California’s famous highways.

Yahoo! Autos quoted her:

“If we’re going to get our transportation system off petroleum,” she says, “we’ve got to get people used to a zero-emissions world, not just a little-bit-better version of the world they have now.”

Regulations already require that 2.7 percent of new cars sold in California this year be battery-only, plug-in hybrids, or fuel-cell cars. The quota rises every year starting in 2018 and reaches 22 percent in 2025. Nichols wants 100 percent of the new vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2030.

That’s only 15 years from now. Fifteen years to convince every new car buyer in the state of California to give up conventional fuel and stop buying cars powered by gas or diesel.

If the infrastructure is in place, prices are affordable, and there’s ample inventory, Nichols’s vision could come true. She certainly has the power to make it happen, but that doesn’t mean the citizens of California would happily accept it.

Should gas engines eventually be outlawed?


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