The Greater Los Angeles Region, home to almost half of all Californians, is aiming to meet pollution and carbon emission goals by targeting 80% EV market share by 2028, in time for the LA Olympics. 30% of the private vehicle fleet of around 15 million vehicles will be EVs. Just over 8 years away, the targets will mean that newly purchased internal combustion engine cars will suffer significant value depreciation in the LA region from now on, and only accelerating with time. Is it time for owners to ditch polluting gas cars before they become essentially worthless?
The LA region’s population of ~19 million is almost 4 times that of EV-friendly Norway, and the region’s economy is equivalent in GDP to the 15th largest nation. Public health issues around transport pollution have been a well known problem in the region for decades, as are climate emissions and their correlated effects such as drought and wildfires. These all need to be urgently improved, and setting the 2028 Olympic year as the rallying point makes good sense.
The latest sales figures from CNCDA put California on track to sell 1.91 million vehicles in 2019, with around 8% market share for electric vehicles (BEV + PHEV), amounting to a projected ~153,000 EV sales this year. Norway is on track to sell just 145,000 total autos in 2019 (13x smaller than the California market), but with 55% to 60% EV market share, the country will see around ~82,500 EV sales, which is over half the number sold in California and approximately equivalent to the number sold in the entire LA Regional area. While Norway is well on track to meet its 2025 goal of eliminating combustion vehicle sales, LA has some work to do to catch up. Let’s look at the recent EV market share trends across these two important markets:
We can immediately see that Norway’s trajectory is well on track to eclipse all combustion vehicle sales by its 2025 target date. We can also see that in the early part of the decade, California was not too far off from Norway in rates of EV adoption. However, 2014 to 2017 saw only sluggish growth. 2018 was back to being a strong growth year, largely due to the Tesla Model 3 becoming available in high volumes, but 2019 is again looking lethargic.
Overall, the California EV adoption path has been decent, and of course much higher than laggard states elsewhere in the US and most other regions of the world. But compared to Norway, as well as the recently fast growing Netherlands and Sweden (both now above 10% market share), California seems to have recently lost its EV mojo. No wonder then that the LA Region is now organizing a serious effort to adopt new targets, and speed the transition to EVs.
LA’s Zero Emissions Roadmap 2.0
Roadmap 2.0 is the name given to the new targets set by the the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and the LA region’s “Transport Electrification Partnership” — a multi-stakeholder group of pubic and private actors, including the Mayor’s office, CARB, other local government bodies, and several automakers (BMW, Audi, Nissan, BYD, Tesla), all aiming to clean up the region’s air.
Here’s how they describe the Roadmap 2.0 goals:
“The Zero Emissions Roadmap 2.0 is an ambitious plan to accelerate the deployment of zero-emissions electric cars, buses and trucks across the LA region. Achieving the roadmap’s targets will result in cleaner air for Los Angeles residents and dramatically reduce the region’s transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, going 25 percent beyond existing commitments tied to California state law and the Paris Climate Accord.” (LACI and TEP, see press release for more)
The “25 percent beyond” is relative to a previous “2018 Commitment Scenario” which was an ambition to do better than a projected “Reference Scenario” that would represent business-as-usual:
There’s a lot more detail to the roadmap, including a big push for EV charging infrastructure, electrification of a large swath of commercial transport, and electrification of almost all of public transport and taxis. Pilot projects for zero emissions zones, like those that exist in London and other cities, are also on the table for implementation before 2028. You can download the PDF overview or visit LACI’s press release website to learn more. Susanna has also shared some of her thoughts on the roadmap.
Combustion necessarily entails releasing damaging emissions, and it’s well past time that damaging other people’s health, and damaging the global climate, are seen as an acceptable side effects of personal mobility “freedom,” especially as we’re now at a stage when competitive zero-emissions alternatives are readily available. If 30% of the private vehicle fleet is going to be EV by 2028, and 80% of vehicle sales will be EVs by that time, is it still even economically viable to buy a combustion car in this region today?
Quite apart from the health and climate repercussions, it’s hard to imagine anyone living in the greater LA region (or frequently entering the region) feeling that it’s economically sensible to buy a new combustion-engine vehicle from here on out. Not only will the larger market be turning away from these polluting and climate damaging vehicles over the coming years and not be willing to pay anything for them, but strict zero emissions zones will mean they are unable to enter increasingly more parts of the region in the years ahead.
I’d urge all informed folks to advise anyone in the region against purchasing a new gas vehicle, since — apart from marking themselves out as a polluter — given the above roadmap, the vehicle’s value will sharply decrease as soon as it is driven away from the dealership lot. By 2027 or 2028, it may not even be possible to give away a combustion vehicle, and it may only retain scrap value.
This loss of money from depreciation is on top of the already greater running costs of gas cars. Drivers of EVs, whether new or used, are typically saving at least $1,000 (sometimes much more) each year on fuel and maintenance, as well as avoiding all these steep depreciation costs. As a consequence, used EVs, due to these lower maintenance costs and greater reliability than gas cars, and pennies per mile on running costs, have a widely recognized use value that keeps their value from falling away to the point of scrap, even as they age.
For folks who currently have an existing combustion car which is still nearly new, I’d recommend selling it ASAP (while some amount of money can still be gotten for it, perhaps selling outside the LA region) and replacing it with a BEV or PHEV, either new or used. Used Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts can be found in the LA region from around $6,000 and up. For folks that have off-street parking and access to an electric outlet (either at home or at a regular workplace), a full BEV may be the best option. If not, the PHEV route is also available. All round, it’s really a no-brainer to make the switch.
For those not ready to switch over yet, for whatever reason, I’d still advise selling any nearly new gas car ASAP, and buying a sensible, economical and relatively reliable older gas vehicle which has already lost much of its value, and hasn’t got too much further to fall.
For folks already owning this kind of older gas vehicle, and for whatever reason are not quite yet ready to get into an EV, the worst thing to do is to buy an expensive new gas vehicle. Instead, keeping the existing older vehicle for a bit longer (or replacing an end-of-life one with a middle-aged one) is economically wiser. Meanwhile, it’s worth staying on the lookout for an opportunity to switch over, since many more EV options — both new and used — are arriving month by month.
Do you live in the greater LA region, and do you have family, friends or colleagues with pollution-related health issues or wildfire-related issues? Have you made the switch to a zero emissions EV, or are planning to soon? What do you think of these new regional targets for EVs? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Article images courtesy of LACI, Chevrolet, Zach Shahan, and Max Holland