Youngkin Ends California’s Car Mandate In Virginia, Restoring Consumer Choice

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced Virginia’s departure from California’s stringent vehicle mandate, which required all new cars sold in the state to be electric or plug-in hybrids by 2035. The controversial mandate, enforced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), would have banned the sale of new gas, diesel and traditional hybrid vehicles starting as early as next year.

This regulation originated from a 2021 bill supported by former Gov. Ralph Northam and his allies in the General Assembly. The bill directed the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (APCB) to adopt California’s vehicle emission standards, bypassing the Administrative Process Act and excluding Virginians from the decision-making process.

California finalized these new regulations in November 2022 under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive. The rules would have imposed severe penalties on the sale of non-compliant vehicles, significantly impacting Virginia and other states that followed California’s lead.

Youngkin and other critics argue that California’s mandate would have created financial burdens for Virginia’s drivers and businesses. Consumers would face higher prices for new and used vehicles, and automakers’ penalties—estimated at $20,000 per non-compliant vehicle—would likely be passed on to consumers.

Additionally, the mandate would have increased Virginia’s and the U.S.’s dependence on China, which dominates the global supply chain for EV batteries and essential minerals.

This dependency raised national security concerns and potential economic vulnerabilities.
Youngkin emphasized that while electric vehicles (EVs) are a valuable option for many, government mandates should not force consumers to purchase them. He believes Virginians should have the freedom to choose vehicles that meet their needs and budgets without restrictive government interference.

By decoupling from California’s regulations, Youngkin reaffirmed his commitment to consumer freedom and state sovereignty. He argued that decisions about vehicle purchases should be made by Virginia’s drivers, not regulators from across the country. This move is seen as a significant step in protecting consumer rights and economic freedom in Virginia.

Other states tied to California’s EV mandate are encouraged to follow Youngkin’s example and prioritize their residents’ autonomy. Youngkin’s decision highlights the importance of balancing environmental goals with consumer choice and economic feasibility.

The debate over California’s vehicle mandate underscores a broader issue of state vs. federal regulations and the impact on local economies. Youngkin’s leadership in rejecting these mandates is a call for other states to consider the unique needs and preferences of their residents, ensuring that environmental policies do not come at the cost of consumer freedom and economic stability.