When it comes to car sales in California, the Golden State is looking to get a little greener.
“Most of our shoppers are looking for a hybrid,” said Chris Wesney, general manager of McCarthy’s, an independent car dealership in San Luis Obispo, California.
Wesney says his team sells about 75 vehicles a month with electric vehicles making up 20% of those sales.
“That increases every year, year over year,” he said adding he expects that number to increase even more after California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent executive order, which would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
“There’s a lot to learn when it comes to buying electric cars,” Wesney said. “The problem that I foresee for some vehicles dealers is the repair facilities.”
The state’s mandate has industry leaders shifting gears, and it’s raised questions inside Cuesta College’s automotive technology department.
“To just simply say, ‘yes, we’re going to do this’ without looking at all other implications kind of makes me a little nervous,” said John Stokes, division chair of engineering and technology at Cuesta College.
Stokes says he supports this decision to move away from fossil fuels in theory, but in reality, he’s questioning everything from how to replace gas taxes to adding enough related infrastructure.
“There are so many things that are still question marks on how to be able to do this,” he said. “Do we have the production to satisfy the electricity? Do we have the production for the battery capacity?”
Other auto industry leaders are also speaking out about this proposed change.
“I certainly understand big, bold ideas but only when they’re affordable,” said Cathy Reheis-Boyd, president of Western States Petroleum Association.
Reheis-Boyd says right now there are 736,000 electric vehicles in California compared to 36 million cars and trucks that run on gas and diesel. She believes that taking drivers’ choices away in 15 years could cost many Americans their jobs.
“I hope we can change our mindsets that’s to collaborate and bring these brilliant minds so California does have a path,” she said.
A path that leads drivers back to the car lot where dealers like Wesney are preparing for the fuel of the future.
“It will just be interesting to see how the powergrade and everybody adjusts to the increase demand for electricity,” he said.