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Free market, not states, must drive electric car sales

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Some in the Washington state Legislature want to impose a ban on the registration of new gasoline-powered cars by 2030.

This proposal seems to put government mandates over the free market.

Now, to be clear, electric cars are the future. Battery-powered cars have made incredible advancements over the past few years.

And, as a result, more and more consumers want to buy them. The various car companies, seeing an opportunity to make even more sales (and eventually profits), are building cars people really want to purchase.

For example, Ford now has an electric version American’s iconic muscle car, the Mustang.

The promotional material for the Mustang Mach-E Select says the car goes zero to 60 in just 5.2 second with a range of 230 miles on a charge.

Given that, expect electric car sales to grow and grow in the future.

However, it makes little sense for a single state to mandate when electric cars must replace those with internal-combustion engines.

It would not make economic sense for carmakers to cater to one state, particular a relatively small one like Washington. Volume sales in all 50 states is the key to profitability.

For the record, California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year signed an executive order calling for an end to the sales of gas and diesel vehicles in the state by 2035. That seems more like a wish than a mandate.

Any mandates on car makers’ standards should be done at the national level.

Seattle Times reporter Hal Berton wrote this week that state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is expressing “serious concerns” about the Washington state proposal.

The attorney general’s legislative director, Yasmin Trudeau, cautioned in a Jan. 28 email that should the proposal become law it would face a legal challenge in federal court. Opponents would argue the state exceeded its authority under the federal Clean Air Act. “We would very likely lose in district court” and set an unfavorable precedent, Trudeau wrote.

The House sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, offered this response to Trudeau’s email: “There are many other reasons to switch from gas to electric besides emission reductions — useful life of the vehicle, fueling and maintenance costs.”

We agree. And that’s exactly why, as the technology improves and the cost per vehicle goes down, demand for battery-powered cars and trucks will skyrocket.

The Washington state Legislature does not need to get involved at this point.

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