MANTECA — Cabral Chrysler Jeep Dodge has been a staple on the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Union Road for 60 years. Part of its longevity comes with adapting to market trends and consumer demand.
But will it be business as usual for car dealerships if proposed legislation to ban gasoline-powered cars is passed, making sales of the autos illegal?
The legislation is being proposed by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), with an eye toward reducing vehicle emissions, which play a key role in climate change.
“Adapting to climate change is the challenge of many generations to come,” Ting said in a statement. “Moving to alternative forms of energy and transportation is inevitable.”
Ting has authored other eco-friendly legislation like AB 1184, which would create incentives for companies that replace older, heavier polluting vehicles with newer, low-emission to zero-emission vehicles.
The goal of that legislation is to lower greenhouse gases to “40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 to meet the state’s climate goals (and) will require widespread transportation decarbonization.”
It would also reduce respiratory health problems due to excess carbon emissions, according to the amended legislation.
“With transportation accounting for most emissions that contribute to dirty air and climate change, we need to get more clean vehicles on the road and provide incentives to help Californians buy them,” Ting said. “We also need a hard deadline to ensure that the transfer to zero emission vehicle technology occurs.”
For Cabral, it’s a matter of giving the customer what they want. Most consumers in the Valley are purchasing trucks and SUVs, vehicles that don’t have electric or hybrid alternatives. The agriculture-centric Central Valley demands the hauling capacity of such vehicles.
“A big portion of our business is SUVs and trucks,” Don Cabral, general manager of the family-owned dealership said. “SUVs are universally the biggest demand item in the state, and I’m not sure if (car manufacturers) think the hybrid is the ultimate answer. It seems more like a stepping stone.”
Cabral said if such legislation were to pass, there would need to be enough time to give dealerships and the buying public a chance to adapt.
A similar moved occurred in 1995 when a ban of leaded gasoline sales took place. Research conducted showed heightened amounts of lead levels in the soil and air. Leaded gasoline had been in use since the 1920s, and was eventually phased out by the early 2000s in most places around the globe.
Ultimately, the dealerships within California affected by a gasoline-powered auto ban would adjust to the market and to inventory.
“Technology, as we know, doubles in five years. I’m sure [the manufacturers] would be able to adjust,” said Steve Kubitz, general manager of Big Valley Ford Lincoln in Stockton. He went on to say that car companies would be able to adjust to whatever legislation was passed. “But we have to see the infrastructure put in line.”
Part of that infrastructure would be battery disposal, and with an estimated 35-percent increase by 2040 in electric vehicle sales — without legislation — that’s a great deal more batteries to dispose of. Battery life varies by make and model of electric vehicle.
“Demand for electric or hybrid is miniscule [in this area]. Chrysler doesn’t have a big stable of those kinds of cars,” Cabral said. He pointed out that they can only sell what their suppliers send their way. “We’re at the bottom of the food chain.”