Washington state legislators have passed a bill that aims to eliminate most gas-powered cars by 2030, forcing a state-wide switch to electric vehicles. The goal set by this legislation is ambitious, and hard to say how feasible it is to accomplish in just eight years.

The Senate bill states that “all publicly owned and privately owned passenger and light-duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in Washington state by electric vehicles.”

Currently, according to The Seattle Times, only 1.3% of cars on the road in Washington run on battery power, meaning the state has a long way to go to meet its proposed goal.

Cost is another challenge that needs to be considered. The average price for an electric vehicle is approximately $64,685 – a price that not all citizens will be able to afford unless the cost is significantly reduced.

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Jeremy Horpedahl, an economist at the University of Arkansas, admitted that the target of 2030 is “overly ambitious,” suggesting instead that consumers be nudged, not forced, into electric vehicles.

“A better approach would be to gradually encourage consumers to switch to electric vehicles and for private enterprises to build the charging infrastructure with incentives,” said Horpedahl. “But whatever the ideal approach is, using economic incentives to encourage more environmentally-friendly consumption is far better than a strict mandate that bans fossil-fuel automobiles.”

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Republican lawmakers in Washington state, who report being cut out of negotiations over the transportation package, have expressed some doubts about this bill and how realistic it is.

Sen. Curtis King, the Republican leader of the Senate Transportation Committee, expressed his opposition to the way this plan is being rolled out:

“They want to force everybody into an electric vehicle for whatever reason they deem fit. They want to take the choice away from the people because they think government knows more than anybody else.”

Rep. Andre Barkis (R) has also expressed his apprehension about the bill, saying, “There’s a lot more to it than just having the cars available. We’ve got a long way to go for power supply and infrastructure and everything that goes along with it.”

Much of this plan’s success hinges on the state’s ability to establish the appropriate infrastructure and slash the costs of electric cars.

Tesla charging station

The cost of electric cars is anticipated to fall over the next eight years. BloombergNEF predicts that electric vehicles “should be cheaper to buy on average than combustion vehicles” by 2026, approximately. This forecast bodes well for the new legislation, but is certainly only one piece of the puzzle.

Leah Missik, the policy manager at Climate Solutions (a “clean energy solutions” nonprofit), believes that more government incentives and a focus on building out infrastructure are critical. “More makes and models are coming on the market, there’s more competition,” said Missik. “Those are all good things but it’s definitely not enough.”

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