Remember how the California Air Resources Board was contemplating banning black cars because air conditioning uses so much C02 (or not)? Well, the madness is over, as The Detroit News reports that California’s proposed “Cool Car” rules are dead. What killed them (besides common sense and the laws of diminishing returns)? Law enforcement, for one, which warned that
the new standards, requiring window glazing to keep car interiors cool, could degrade signals from cell phones and ankle monitoring bracelets worn by felons in rural or mountainous areas.
CARB’s glazing standards also would have been incompatible with toll booth “EZ-pass” technology and could have interfered with cell-phone transmissions.
But don’t think that the CARB will just ignore the .7 million metric tons per year of C02 (by 2020) that they weren’t able to eliminate. According to a statement
by the board’s executive officer,
Instead, the Board will pursue a performance-based approach as part of its vehicle climate change program to reduce CO2 from air conditioning and provide cooler car interiors for California motorist
And what, pray, does that mean? Spokesman Stanley Young tells the LA Times
that OEMs auto will still have to meet a standard for a specific drop in the interior temperature of vehicles
but they are free to draw on any technology to achieve it. This could be through advanced windows that keep the sun’s heat out, but also heat-reflecting paints, different upholstery, or even fans that circulate air and keep the car cool while it is standing in the sun.
Costs for the abandoned standard were estimated to cost manufacturers between $39 and $128 per vehicle, and it’s interesting that increased cost apparently wasn’t a factor in the decision to walk away from “cool cars” rules. Will the “performance-based” standard help control those costs? Meanwhile, will folks in climates where air conditioning isn’t widely used have to pay for the cost of California compliance as well? CARB helped push national emissions standards forward, and clearly relishes its role as the rogue-agent vanguard of vehicle regulation, so don’t expect cool-car standards to simply disappear.