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How To Adapt To California's 2035 Ban On New ICE Car Sales (DRAFT)

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Tom hanks look-a-like painting sorry no gas

Recent political movements have ushered in a harsh new reality for gas station owners, operators, technicians, and maintenance crews alike. After hearing the news that California will not allow the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles beyond the year 2035, uncertainty befell many. This post will help ease that uncertainty and provide some clarity to the future of fueling in California by providing the following:

  1. Clear understanding of the new executive order, including key facts that you need to be aware of now and in the future.
  2. A vision for the future of California’s fueling landscape.
  3. Steps you can take to adapt.


Executive Order N-79-20 

Here are the main facts of Executive Order N-79-20 (direct link here):

  • 100% of new cars sales in California will be zero-emission by 2035
  • 100% of new drayage trucks (short-distance delivery) sales will be zero-emission by 2035
  • 100% of new off-road vehicle sales will be zero emission by 2035
  • 100% of new medium and heavy-duty trucks will be zero-emission by 2045

All of these goals are in alignment with the states plan to remove all carbon emissions by the year 2045. 

How will we be ready for the 2035 deadline?

The Governor’s office has set a date of Jan 15, 2021 for the first installment of an action plan. Said plan will involve coordination from the following agencies:

  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resource Agency
  • Office of Planning and Research 
  • Department of Finance 
  • Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

The plan that is introduce in January, 2021 will be updated every three years as the 2035 deadline approaches.

What does the future of fueling look like in California?


Passenger car electric vehicle EV sales since 2015


Before this executive order, electric vehicles have proven their ability to become a formidable player in the auto industry.

The amount of electric vehicles sold in the North America has risen from 500,000 in 2015 to two million in 2019. That is an increase in new sales of over 300%. 

It is important to note that those sales numbers account for only 2.5%-5% of new car sales in North America 

This trend can only continue upward if there is infrastructure (chargers) to allow for further market penetration. In California specifically, there is a much larger effort to install electric vehicle chargers.

In short, the future of California transportation is going to include electric. In fact, this was the case before the new executive order. The decree simply put a hard date on the transfer of power from gasoline to electricity. So how can you pivot to be ahead of the curve?

Steps you can take NOW to EVOLVE your convenience store:

Here are the three most important steps you can take right now to ensure your business is not left behind:

  1. Survey your site for EV charging capability
  2. C-store revamp
  3. Hydrogen fueling

Electrical Charging at a Gas Station

You may be interested in introducing electric vehicle charging to your fueling station. Many gas station owners in California have been going through the process to determine how to keep up with the changing landscape of fueling. A few points to consider:

  • Location – Gas stations are strategically placed along highways exits. Electric vehicle charging can succeed much faster by taking advantage of the current fueling infrastructure.
  • Time on-site – EV charging at a gas station will utilize DC “fast chargers.” This means that vehicles will pop in for 15-20 minutes to get about a 25% charge and then get to their workplace or home, where they can plug into a “slow charger.” This is known as the “top off” method and it has the ability to boost C-store sales 
  • Electrical capacity – a fast charger will require the following electrical capacity:
    • 480 volt, 3 phase power
    • 200 amps per charger 

 If you are unsure about your gas stations electrical capacity, you are not alone! 

The very best thing you can do is get ahold of your local electrical utility and present them with the parameters listed above. They will be able to tell you, either through a phone call or a physical site visit, what your current capacity is and what it will take for your site to host EV chargers.

Re-thinking the convenience store

As California gets more and more serious about EV charging, more and more gas stations will begin to install chargers on their site.

The current C-store model is not setup for this reality. It takes no more than 6 minutes to fill a gas tank, meaning less time is needed to spend in a C-store. It takes no less than 15 minutes to get a charge worth the money. 

The C-store that looks more like a coffee shop will get the most out of installing an EV charger on site. Providing a place to stay and hang out while your car is being charged will attract more patrons and increase the likelihood that they purchase something, like a coffee or snack.

Hydrogen fueling is the real future of California

Perhaps the best way to fortify a gas station business in California is to include hydrogen fueling in your product offering. Hydrogen is not mentioned in the executive order because its combustion process (hydrolisis) converts its exhuast into water vapor.

Diesel is a relatively easy addition to a gas station. Some older gas stations that were built before blending dispensers will have 3 gasoline tanks (low, mid, and high grade). By upgrading the dispensers at a site like this, you will be able to blend low and high grade gasoline to get mid-grade. This will free up an entire underground tank for diesel use.

It would be worth the exploration to continue capturing the demand of California’s drivers as we step into this new frontier of fueling.