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Experts say significant grid investments needed to phase out gas-powered vehicles in California

Phasing out gas-powered cars
Phasing out gas-powered cars 03:56

On Thursday, the California Air Resources Board voted to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035, but experts say significant investments in grid infrastructure will need to happen to make this a reality. 

Experts at the University of California Irvine have been conducting much of that research, learning what exactly will be needed to make all cars zero emissions in little more than a decade. 

RELATED: California takes lead on climate change with plan to halt sale of new gas cars by 2035

"The grid does not currently have the capability to add millions of battery electric or even fuel-cell electric vehicles today," Jack Brouwer, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCI. "So, we have some time to make reasonable investments in the grid to enable this to actually happen and to happen well." 

Southern California Edison, which provides power to nearly 14 million Southland customers says it's doing just that, making those investments in the grid now. 

UCI Professor Jack Brouwer shows CBSLA's Michele Gile a hydrogen powered electric vehicle that only emits water.  CBSLA

"We have a long-term process in place to make sure we're making smart investments in the grid today, so we'll have the energy we need five to 10 years down the road," SoCal Edison Spokesperson Paul Griffo told CBSLA. "In fact, Southern California Edison is investing over $5 billion in modernizing the grid, so that we can handle the additional needs of our customers in the future, including electric cars." 

Brouwer showed CBSLA a hydrogen powered vehicle, which only emits water. The UCI professor said California will need to think about more than just battery electric cars in order for the change over to be successful. 

"If we try to move in this direction and only use battery electric vehicles, we will fail," Brouwer said. "The grid cannot charge every single transportation application. We must invest in both battery-electric vehicles and fuel-cell electric vehicles."

The professor added that if half of drivers in 2035 have hydrogen-electric vehicles, the power grid will not be as stressed. Those people can fill up their cars at hydrogen stations, which are much like gas stations, and will hopefully become more available throughout the state in the coming years. 

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