The State Legislature passed a law in 2020 requiring the Department of Ecology to follow California's vehicle emissions standards for cleaner cars. California's Air Resources Board (CARB) approved new regulations in Aug. 2022 fast-tracking zero-emission standards by 2035.
Washington is only the third state in the U.S. to adopt these new standards, the department says.
"The EV revolution has begun, and momentum will only continue to build over the coming years," said Governor Jay Inslee. "I’m excited to see the future unfold as more and more electric vehicles and charging infrastructure come online, battery range increases, and ZEVs transform into the most affordable and convenient option for almost everyone in Washington."
Ecology says zero-emission vehicles include:
- Electric vehicles
- Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
- Plug-in hybrids with at least 50 miles of all-electric range
According to the agency, auto manufacturers are already stepping up ZEV production—and some are likewise committed to 100%-ZEV standards by 2035. ZEVs currently make up around 13% of new vehicle sales in Washington.
The Department of Ecology says ZEVs are cheaper to own long-term than gas and diesel vehicles, due to lower maintenance costs and big fuel savings.
"These new standards will accelerate a market transition that is already happening," said Laura Watson, Ecology’s director. "They’re designed to incentivize manufacturers to produce more affordable, clean vehicles in a wider array of models to suit everyone’s needs. And by targeting transportation – the state’s largest source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions – these standards will make a significant contribution on our path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050."
Ecology says new ZEV standards will begin with vehicle model year 2026, making up 35% of new passenger vehicle sales. Manufacturers must sell 6–9% more ZEVs every year, up to 100% by 2035. The department also notes these new standards will work in tandem with the state's other climate policies, including the Clean Fuel Standard and Cap-and-Invest Program which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.