How Long to Keep Your Car is Going to Change

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: September 30, 2022

Until a few years ago, if you’d asked me how long you should keep a new car, I would have said until the warranty runs out. However, as governments worldwide begin to call time on automakers being allowed to sell brand new gas, diesel, and even hybrid cars in their countries, how long to keep your car is going to change, and in a big way.

Kia EV6 – a supposedly “affordable” electric car

If you buy a new vehicle, it will still be a good idea to trade it in for a new one when the warranty runs out for a few years yet. But as we approach the end of the decade, many of us will likely want to keep our old cars for far longer than we ever imagined.

This is because many US states and governments worldwide are planning to ban the sale of new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

If you still don’t want an electric vehicle (EV) by then, or if it just isn’t practical for you to own one, you’ll want to look after your last new gas-powered car and keep it for a very, very long time.

Why are new gas cars going to be banned?

There are some very diametrically-opposed views on why states and governments want to ban the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs). The consensus among those advocating the move is to save the planet from a catastrophic increase in global temperatures by reducing carbon emissions.

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Those opposed to such a move will cite a few reasons why the “powers that be” want to go down this route and implement these bans as early as they advocate. Some will say it’s because the noise from environmental pressure groups blinds these politicians.

Others will say the elite have a vested financial interest in pushing EVs, but plenty will say it’s all about posturing on the world stage and trying to appear “greener” and more virtuous than their peers.

If we were to be kind, another reason could be that these politicians pushing the “net-zero” agenda genuinely believe in it. They believe stopping you and me from buying a new gas or diesel-powered vehicle and forcing us to buy an EV will significantly reduce global carbon dioxide levels and prevent “climate change.”

Regardless of the complex arguments around whether EVs will save the world or not, it would be nice to believe that politicians are forcing them upon us because they genuinely believe they are going to save the world. I have my doubts in all regards.

When are sales of new ICE cars going to be banned?

When sales of new cars with gas, diesel, or hybrid powerplants are going to be banned depends where you live. If you live in the UK, for example, the government has announced plans for sales of new ICE cars will end by 2030.

The plan was for 2023, but then the government hosted the COP 26 climate jamboree, and the pressure to ramp up the virtue signaling grew too strong to resist, bringing the date forward to 2030. Sales of new hybrids can continue there until 2035, but that date is only likely to last until the next round of global virtue signaling gets underway at COP 27 or one of those G7, G20, or G568 meetings.

It’s a more complicated picture in the US, where the federal system means different states have different policies. California led the way (naturally) several years ago by announcing a plan to phase out new gas cars by 2035. Since then, the cities of Oakland, Culver City, and Berkeley have out-virtued the state governor by announcing their own plans to ban regular cars as soon as 2030.    

Several states follow the 2035 plan, including Massachusetts, Maine, Hawaii, Connecticut, Oregon, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. Washington state is something of an outlier at the moment with a plan to ban the sale of evil ICE vehicles by 2030. Expect more to follow.

At the federal level, US President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14057 that mandates that 50% of new vehicle sales in the US must be electric by 2030, followed by a total ban on all the sale of all new ICE-powered vehicles by 2035.

Many other countries worldwide have plans to limit, ban, or disincentivize the sale of cars powered by fossil fuels in the coming years, although 2030 in the UK is as early as any.

Kia Telluride – gas-only SUV

What will happen when the bans get implemented?

In the utopian world of the eco-zealot, when you can’t buy a new car with an internal combustion engine anymore, the climate will stabilize, the air will be clean, the birds will sing, and there will be rainbows everywhere.

Seriously though, a few genuinely believe that getting rid of gas and diesel engines will save the planet. Others who are less idealistic than that think forcing us into EVs will contribute to preventing the weather from changing too much for the worse. Some are unsure how much difference it will make to global average temperatures, but plenty just hate cars and hope to see the end of them.

Of course, if you have any intelligence, if you know anything about human behavior, or if you know a bit about history, you’ll know that rainbows and unicorns are unlikely to be the real-world outcome of any of these bans. And this brings us back to the original point of this article.

What will really happen unless EV technology changes beyond all recognition in the next five years is that as we get closer to the deadlines for sales of new ICE cars, many of us will decide to hang on to what we’ve got.

After the Cuban Revolution ended in 1959, a US embargo was implemented on the regime, and Castro banned the importation of American cars and mechanical parts. The result was for Cuba to effectively turn into a living museum of old American cars because residents could no longer replace them with new models.

Something similar will likely start happening in countries around the globe from 2030 with vehicles powered by ICEs.

What will this mean?

When (if) these bans start to get implemented from 2030 onwards, governments and politicians in power are in for a big wake-up call. If they think we’ll have mostly swapped to EVs by then, as we see the deadlines looming, I think they will be in for a massive shock.

As the deadline for new ICE car sales approaches in a country, citizens will scramble for the last new models offered for sale before they can’t buy them new anymore. Those who can’t afford a new car will either buy used or hang on to what they’ve got for the foreseeable future.

The market for used petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles will be like nothing we’ve ever seen in the auto industry. Used car dealers will be making an absolute fortune, and auto repair shops will be rushed off their feet as older and older vehicles keep coming into them for servicing and maintenance to keep them on the road.

On top of all this, we must address the truth behind EVs. If you think they will save the world, you need to read on…

The EV reality

5 Reasons Electric Vehicles Aren’t as Green as You Think

Just how green are electric vehicles (EVs), really? In their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on petroleum, many cities have enacted programs to incentivize the adoption of electric cars. However, you might change your opinion when you hear the truth behind these supposedly environmentally friendly vehicles.

1. Producing electricity for EVs has an enormous environmental footprint

The first thing to recognize about EVs is that fossil fuel-powered plants often generate the electricity that powers them. This means that the overall emissions associated with EVs are relatively high since power plants themselves are significant contributors to air pollution.

A recent study of carbon emissions by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the carbon emissions associated with producing electricity for EVs are 50 to 95 percent higher than those associated with gasoline-powered vehicles. This is mainly because many of the states with the dirtiest power plants also have the most aggressive plans to expand the use of EVs.

California and Texas, for example, account for nearly half of all EVs in the United States. In California, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the carbon emissions associated with electricity production for EVs are double those of the state’s power mix as a whole.

2. Electric Vehicles are Only as Green as Their Power Sources

Not all sources of electricity are created equal. A coal power plant produces about twice as much carbon per unit of energy generated as a natural gas-fired plant. A power plant burning natural gas produces about 50 percent more carbon per unit of energy generated than a coal-fired plant. And a power plant using wind or solar energy to generate electricity produces zero carbon emissions.

But because less than 4 percent of all US electricity comes from solar or wind, EVs are only as green as the power plants that generate their electricity. This was illustrated by a 2018 Union of Concerned Scientists report that found that if, in the future, US electricity were generated 100 percent by wind and solar, the net lifetime carbon emissions of EVs would be about 25 percent less than those of gasoline-powered cars.

That’s because the carbon emissions associated with producing the extra electricity needed to charge all of those EVs would be essentially zero. Of course, the intermittent nature of wind and solar means that will never be possible. And even if wind and solar are exploited to their maximum potential, other forms of electricity generation will still be required. That means fossil fuels are likely to be needed for decades to come.

Typical under-floor EV battery pack

3. There are still big problems with EV batteries

Over the last few years, a lot of attention has been paid to the environmental problems associated with the mining of lithium, cobalt, and rare earth metals used in EV batteries. In fact, the assault on mining these minerals has been so fierce that a number of authors have suggested that there may be a shortage of certain battery materials by 2021.

While there’s no doubt that mining these materials can be environmentally damaging, it’s important to remember that there are also environmental problems associated with gasoline mining. To produce gasoline or diesel, refineries must process large quantities of crude oil.

This crude oil must then be transported to the refinery and then processed. Then, the refined gasoline or diesel must be transported from the refinery to the filling station, where it must be stored before being delivered to customers.

Even so, the mining of rare earth minerals is only part of the problem with EV batteries. The whole manufacturing process and production of the raw materials rely on power usually generated by fossil fuels, especially in China.

These extremely heavy batteries then have to be shipped around the world to auto plants, and then there’s the problem of what happens to the batteries at the end of their relatively short lifespan.

It’s unclear how long EV batteries will last, but they’re not going to last anything like as long as a well-maintained internal combustion engine, that’s for sure.

4. Manufacturing EVs is still highly environmentally unfriendly

Many of the same materials used in EV batteries are also used in manufacturing internal combustion engines. In fact, a modern, state-of-the-art internal combustion engine can actually be cleaner than a battery-driven electric vehicle. That’s because the electricity used to power EVs is usually produced by coal-fired power plants.

This means that the manufacturing of internal combustion engines is cleaner than the production of the electricity used to power EVs. In addition, the materials used in the manufacture of EVs are often produced in places like China, where environmental regulations are less stringent than they are in the United States and Western Europe.

Once again, the difference between the carbon emissions associated with producing EVs and the emissions associated with producing internal combustion engines comes down to the source of the electricity used to power EVs.

5. Most consumers are still using EVs to help the environment instead of just preferring them

Most people who purchase EVs do so because they want to actively help the environment. However, many of these people may be misinformed about the actual amount of benefit their EVs provide.

For example, people who live in cities with air quality problems often have access to bus and subway lines. They may also live in cities where car-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft provide access to electric cars when needed.

These people may still be driving EVs out of a sense of guilt. But they aren’t really doing anything to actively improve the environment. Similarly, people who buy EVs to save money on fuel may soon find that EVs are no more economical than internal combustion engines.

While EVs have historically been more expensive than conventional cars, the gap between gas-powered and electric vehicles is shrinking. And EVs require maintenance just like gas-powered cars. EVs that are charged with electricity generated by coal-fired power plants will cost more in terms of environmental damage than they will save on gasoline.

EVs are too expensive for most people

Finally, while driving EVs is often considered better than driving gas-powered cars in most cases, it’s important not to exaggerate the benefits of electric cars. In many cities, driving an EV will result in fewer carbon emissions than driving a gas-powered car. But many people simply can’t afford EVs.

According to a recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, even the most affordable EVs will still cost between $5,000 and $10,000 more than a conventional car over their lifetime. And most people simply don’t have that kind of money to spend on a car.

In addition, plug-in hybrids and battery-powered cars require people to make a significant lifestyle change. Using public transportation, car-sharing programs, or even bicycles to get around town is far more convenient than having to plug an EV into a charging station at home every night. And many people aren’t willing to make that kind of change.

We’ve been told for some time now that as EVs get more popular, prices will come down to the same level or lower than conventional vehicles. I think it’s probably about time to call BS on that particular fantasy.

As the cost of rare earth minerals continues to increase with their increased scarcity and demand, it’s hard to see how EVs will ever get much cheaper than they are now. In fact, it looks as though more and more automakers are looking at producing more premium electric models as takeup for the most affordable models appears pretty low.

We can probably expect to see more and more EVs like the Jaguar iPace, Audi e-trons, and Teslas of this world, and fewer models like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt.

How long will we keep our cars in the future?

Some of us will probably choose to keep our cars indefinitely in the future, which is good news for auto shops and bad news for the environment industry. There’s no way governments will dare to ban the ownership of ICE cars in our lifetimes. It’s likely then that hundreds of millions of us will prefer to lovingly maintain their late 2020s gas, diesel, and hybrid cars rather than remortgage to afford a range-limited EV.

In its way, however, that’s probably greener than hundreds of millions of us ditching perfectly good combustion engine cars to replace them with expensive and relatively impractical EVs with decidedly questionable environmental credentials.

As for me, I’ve got my plans. Unless my personal finances change radically for the better between now and 2028, I plan to buy that year’s equivalent of a Ford Mustang GT convertible and keep it for good.

It will have to be a V8, of course. If Ford is producing Mustang GTs with anything else under the hood by then, I’ll have to buy a used one instead. After all, we all have to make sacrifices from time to time, don’t we?

My “last ever” car?