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Disneyland's Gas-Powered Autopia Cars Are Going Electric

The designer said those "God-awful gasoline fumes" need to go.

The shift toward electric has touched nearly every corner of the automotive industry and now it’s extended its reach into Disneyland.

The amusement park earlier this month confirmed with the Los Angeles Times that the gas-powered vehicles of the Autopia ride within the Tomorrowland attraction will be swapped out for electric vehicles. Disneyland spokesperson Jessica Good said that means fully electric, not hybrid, engines will be up and running on the Autopia track within the next two to three years. The exact timeline isn’t clear, as is what the change will mean for park infrastructure and maintenance, but it’s definitely happening.

It’s a major change for the ride, which has been in operation since 1955, and the decision serves as a microcosm of the current state of an automotive industry in the middle of a historic transformation.

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Bob Gurr, who designed the Autopia attraction nearly 70 years ago, told the Times that those “God-awful gasoline fumes” need to go, and that Tomorrowland should start focusing on more sustainable technologies.

He’s not alone in his opinion. Climate change activist Zan Dubin, who had been putting pressure on Disney to ditch the gas-powered vehicles, voiced concerns about exposing children to the noise and fumes of the current Autopia vehicles. Sammy Roth, the Times columnist who broke the news, also suggested that Disney’s influence, as opposed to fear of climate change, could help affect wider adoption of electric vehicles.

When Autopia first debuted, the attraction was sponsored by Richfield Oil. From 2000 to 2012, it was sponsored by Chevron. Now, it’s sponsored by Honda, one of the many major automakers laying out their vision for electric vehicles.

EV growth has slowed recently. Just this week, EV industry standard bearer Tesla reported plunging profits as it faces dwindling demand and increased competition. Other automakers like Ford and Mercedes-Benz have had to readjust their aggressive electric strategies to address market realities. But it’s too late to put the EV genie back in the bottle and as the world seeks to scale back on burning fossil fuels, even small moves like electrifying Autopia could have big impacts.

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