In September 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an ambitious plan to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. This groundbreaking decision was seen as a bold move to combat climate change and promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). However, a recent study has estimated that this ban could potentially cost taxpayers up to $20 billion.

In this article, we will delve into the details of the study and explore the potential economic impact of California's gas car sale ban. We will examine the various factors contributing to this projected cost and discuss the wider implications for taxpayers, the automotive industry, and the state's economy.

The Study

The study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and commissioned by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, sought to assess the economic consequences of California's plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars. The findings revealed that the ban could lead to a significant financial burden on taxpayers, with the potential cost reaching as high as $20 billion.

Factors Contributing to the Cost

Several key factors contribute to the projected cost of California's gas car sale ban, as outlined in the study:


One of the major challenges in transitioning to electric vehicles is the need for significant infrastructure investments. This includes the installation of charging stations across the state to support the growing demand for EVs. The study estimates that California would need to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to accommodate the anticipated surge in electric vehicle adoption.

Consumer Subsidies

To encourage consumers to make the switch to electric vehicles, the state may need to provide substantial subsidies and incentives. These could include tax credits, rebates, and other financial incentives designed to offset the higher upfront costs of EVs. The study suggests that these subsidies could amount to a significant portion of the projected $20 billion cost.

Loss of Tax Revenue

With the shift away from gasoline-powered cars, California stands to lose a significant source of tax revenue. Gasoline taxes currently contribute a substantial amount to the state's finances, and the decline in gasoline sales could have a considerable impact on tax revenues. The study highlights this as a key factor contributing to the overall cost of the ban.

Job Displacement

The phase-out of gasoline-powered cars could also lead to job displacement in the automotive industry. As the demand for traditional internal combustion engine vehicles wanes, there could be a significant impact on jobs related to gasoline vehicle production, maintenance, and sales. This could result in additional costs associated with retraining and reemployment programs for affected workers.

Implications for Taxpayers

The projected $20 billion cost of California's gas car sale ban has far-reaching implications for taxpayers in the state. With the potential need for infrastructure investments, consumer subsidies, and the loss of tax revenue, taxpayers could ultimately bear the brunt of the financial burden associated with the transition to electric vehicles.

Increased Taxes and Fees

To offset the cost of infrastructure investments and subsidies, taxpayers could face the prospect of increased taxes and fees. This could include higher vehicle registration fees, surcharges on electric vehicle purchases, or even new taxes related to the transportation sector. These additional financial obligations could place a strain on the wallets of Californian taxpayers.

Budgetary Constraints

The substantial cost of the gas car sale ban could also place pressure on the state's budget. With significant expenditures required for infrastructure and consumer incentives, California may need to reallocate resources from other areas, leading to potential cuts in essential services or programs. This could impact education, healthcare, and other critical areas of public spending.

Economic Disruption

The potential job displacement in the automotive industry also has wider implications for the state's economy. Displaced workers may experience financial hardship, and the overall economic impact of job losses could ripple through local communities. Additionally, the loss of tax revenue from gasoline sales could constrain the state's ability to fund essential services and infrastructure projects.

Automotive Industry Impact

The gas car sale ban in California could have a profound impact on the automotive industry, both within the state and beyond. As the largest car market in the United States, California wields considerable influence over the automotive sector, and the transition to electric vehicles could reshape the industry landscape.

Market Disruption

The shift away from gasoline-powered cars could disrupt the traditional automotive market. Manufacturers and dealerships may need to adapt to a new sales landscape, with a heavier emphasis on electric vehicle offerings. This transition could create challenges for companies that have historically focused on gasoline car production and sales.

Investment and Innovation

On the flip side, the gas car sale ban could drive increased investment and innovation in electric vehicle technology. As automakers strive to meet the demand for EVs in California, there may be a surge in research and development efforts, leading to advancements in battery technology, charging infrastructure, and other key areas of electric vehicle production.

Job Creation and Evolution

While there may be job displacement in some sectors of the automotive industry, the transition to electric vehicles could also create opportunities for new jobs. From manufacturing and assembly of EV components to the development of charging infrastructure and related services, the shift to electric vehicles may generate new employment prospects within the industry.


The projected cost of California's gas car sale ban underscores the complexities and challenges associated with transitioning to electric vehicles on a large scale. The potential $20 billion financial burden has significant implications for taxpayers, the automotive industry, and the state's economy as a whole.

As California moves forward with its plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, careful consideration of the economic impacts will be essential. Balancing the need for infrastructure investments, consumer incentives, and job retention measures will be critical in navigating the transition to electric vehicles without unduly burdening taxpayers or stalling economic growth.

Ultimately, the success of California's endeavor to promote electric vehicle adoption will hinge on effective policy implementation, strategic investment, and proactive measures to mitigate the potential economic costs. By addressing these challenges head-on, California may pave the way for a greener, more sustainable automotive future while minimizing the financial impact on taxpayers and the broader economy.

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