Electric vehicle with desert reflection

What is Advanced Clean Cars II and what does it do? 

Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) is a transformational proposed policy that states could start adopting in 2022 to ensure the economic, environmental, and health benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) are available to consumers sooner rather than later. After the rule is finalized later this year, it will become effective in 2026 and will require an increasing percentage of new EV sales each year. By 2035, all new vehicles sold would need to be electric.

Under Section 177 of the U.S. Clean Air Act, every state has the sovereignty to adopt either the federal vehicle standards or the more stringent standards developed by the California Air Resources Board, and ACC II will be the latest rule available for states that want to move swiftly toward an electric future. ACC II is the successor to the original Advanced Clean Cars rule, also sometimes called the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rule, which has now been adopted by 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Why should states adopt Advanced Clean Cars II? 

ACC II would save consumers money, improve air quality in our cities, and address the urgent challenge of climate change, all while ensuring equitable access to this new vehicle technology.

Saving Consumers Money

Adopting ACC II would rapidly accelerate the prevalence of EVs in the marketplace, saving customers money at the gas pump, on monthly electricity bills, and on avoided trips to the maintenance shop. EVs are much cheaper to fuel than internal combustion engine vehicles, and EVs require less maintenance than their gasoline counterparts.

According to the Staff Report on the draft ACC II rule, an EV bought in 2026 will cost $3,200-$4,200 less than a gasoline powered car over its lifespan, and those lifetime cost savings will increase to $7,700-$8,800 per vehicle for a car bought in 2035. M.J. Bradley & Associates’ studies for Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and other states have found that widespread adoption of EVs, paired with smart management of the electric system, also would reduce electricity costs for all ratepayers.

Clean Cars Improve Air Quality 

EVs offer huge air quality benefits. While gasoline-powered vehicles spew smog-forming emissions that lead to increased incidence of heart diseases, respiratory infections, and lung cancer, EVs have zero tailpipe emissions. (In fact, EVs don’t even have a tailpipe!) This air pollution hurts low-income individuals and communities of color the hardest, as discriminatory housing policies have put their homes near highways and industrial areas that have higher concentrations of these harmful emissions.

The American Lung Association’s 2022 “State of the Air” report found that 60% of people in the Intermountain West live in places with failing grades for air quality, and that percentage has been increasing each year. Adopting zero-emission vehicle standards like ACC II is one of the best steps states can take to clean up the air, according to the report.

Clean Cars Tackle Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and its impacts are becoming graver each year. International scientists agree we need to bring our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 in order to avoid irreversible warming. Requiring all new passenger vehicle sales to be EVs by 2035 would bring emissions from the passenger vehicle sector — which accounts for 58% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector — down to zero by 2050. Adopting ACC II would ensure participating states were taking steps in line with the urgency scientists say we need in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

Clean Cars Address Equity

While EVs offer clear economic, environmental, and public health advantages, those benefits must become more accessible to all consumers. ACC II addresses equity considerations by offering credits to auto manufacturers in the early years of the plan that incentivizes them to bring cheaper models to the market. The credits apply for new passenger vehicles costing less than $20,000 and new SUVs priced less than $27,000. These “Environmental Justice Credits” encourage auto manufacturers in the early years of the rule to produce more affordable EVs, which will earn them more credits and make it easier to comply with the yearly sales requirements.

The rapid increase in new EV availability is expected to lead to growth in the used EV market, as first-generation EV drivers move their vehicles to the used car market. While complementary policies will be needed, ACC II is a policy which would make this technology and its benefits more accessible to more individuals, regardless of their income level.

What are the next steps for states that want to pursue this rule?

While state processes vary, the proposed rule in most states must be heard before the state agency responsible for developing air quality regulations. Air quality regulators typically only bring forward these rules for consideration if the state’s governor requests it or the state legislature requires it. The U.S. Clean Air Act requires several years’ delay between adoption of the rule and the date the requirements start, so states should move quickly to adopt this rule in 2022 or 2023 in order to more quickly begin reaping the economic, health, and climate benefits of accelerated EV use.