By on June 11, 2011

The WSJ [sub] reports

California regulators want zero-emission vehicles—those that don’t run on petroleum—to comprise up to 5.5% of new-car sales in the state, or roughly 81,300, in 2018. The target would rise annually to 14%, or more than 227,600, by 2025…

Tom Cackette, chief deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, says his agency’s goal is to test whether electric cars can become mainstream vehicles, or wind up serving a “niche” market. Mr. Cackette said the state is investing in charging stations and other infrastructure, and he pointed to the sales of new plug-ins on the market to show that there’s a demand for the vehicles. He said he believes the California targets are feasible.

“That is a question we’ll only find out by trying,” he said. “I think [car companies] are making a pretty big investment in these vehicles, and they wouldn’t be doing that if they didn’t think there was a market there.”

Industry lobby groups are pushing California to roll the ZEV mandate into the forthcoming national CAFE standard. Small automakers like Mazda complain that placing a California ZEV mandate on top of national emissions standards would create a “costly burden…in light of the uncertain marketplace and infrastructure for electric vehicles.” And since CARB is leading the federal government by the ear towards a national standard anyway, it could simply push for a higher CAFE rate, which would at least allow firms the flexibility to comply on their own terms. Adding a major ZEV mandate won’t fundamentally change the national standard, but it absolutely will force automakers to spend huge amounts of money to develop a kind of vehicle that has major shortcomings, is only as green as local electricity generation, and has yet to prove itself with consumers. Whatever you think of emissions standards increases, it should be clear that consumers should determine what mix of technologies can best serve their needs while lowering fuel consumption and pollution.

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16 Comments on “CARB To Bump ZEV Mandate, Automakers Fight Back...”


  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Is this the same CARB that set unrealistic targets in the 1990′s and then had to withdraw them when they realized that some manuafacturers would have to leave the California market?

  • avatar
    tced2

    Is this the same California that barely has enough electricity to run all the lights and air conditioning?

  • avatar

    The problem for CA government is that they may just get what they want. I am convinced that deep in their heart CARB wants to fail with EV initiative and the only reason to make these statements is to look politically correct on electorate’s eyes. Because if they succeed the next thing will be to build more power-plants in CA and most likely nuclear ones and Californians will never agree to that. One solution might be for all businesses to leave CA to reduce consumption of electricity or for Californians to drive bicycles to work.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If all the businesses leave, won’t there be a lack of jobs to get to?

      • 0 avatar

        And that is a beauty of solution – less businesses consume less energy, people do not commute to work every day and so less CO2 emissions. And the best thing is people will start leaving state for greener pastures and overpopulation problem will be solved! Lot of water will be saved too. Mexican will leave state and stop sneaking over borders and so problem of illegal immigration is solved. Then house prices will drop dramatically and housing will become affordable again. I say: Sacramento, increase taxes on businesses and income to insane levels, make conducting business in CA impossibly expensive and you will solve all problems!

        Another advantage will be that now Federal government subsidizing CA not otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        I wasn’t aware that California was carrying the rest of the country financially. That’s good to hear since I’m not interested in a special assessment destined to pay for the Golden State’s largess all these years.

        California should build their own cars to their own standards, use the NUMMI plant for starters. Meanwhile the rest of the country can send moving vans in to help evacuate the last of the holdouts and move them to Texas where they at least can get a job.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    This is one time where I side with the automakers on.

    What California is asking, and has been doing since the 1970′s is for a TOTALLY separate set of standards than the rest of the country, which then incurs added costs to the manufacturer as he has to then provide for 2 separate emissions systems, one for California and another for the rest of the country as I remember when the cars destined to California were fitted with “California Emissions”.

    True, to get plug ins to work is to provide charging stations and that’s all well and good but the sad fact of the matter is, the electricity needed to RUN such chargers and if California can’t provide the juice needed to run such devices, then what good will it do?

    And besides, as has been said, EV’s are as green as the power needed to charge them in the first place.

    And I like the automaker’s suggestion to roll the EV standards into the CAFE standards.

    • 0 avatar

      That is not true. EV is considerably more efficient than ICE. ICE wastes most of energy heating environment, not moving the car. Also EV does not depend on how energy is generated. It can be coal today and solar energy tomorrow and EV design does not change at all. No need to change fleet of EVs when method of energy generation changes. With ICE if you want to switch from oil to something else you have to replace whole fleet of cars and all infrastructure and it makes progress almost impossible.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckR

        Average thermal efficiency of coal fired power plants – like Kaiparowits Four Corners that supplies California from 2 out of 5 units – is 30-35%. Add in transmission losses and you are a lot closer to the thermal efficiency of ICE. The best combined cycle plants are up to 60% efficient, but that isn’t true of many power plants that supply the Californians. Maybe the increased demand would result in new more efficient units coming on line, however, the NIMBY Californians aren’t known for siting their needed power in their own state if they can help it.

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        It won’t be solar tomorrow in California, they are trying to build a solar array in the middle of nowhere and it’s run into environmental opposition.

        One little gram of gasoline has so much energy, it’s easy to transport, simple to fuel, works in any climate or temperature, quite wonderful stuff.

        Electric cars are counting on an infrastructure we don’t have, can’t afford and won’t build. When the tax subsidies, local giveaways, and hype expires EV owners will find themselves on a car lot looking again at a gasoline powered car.

        We’ll leave the light on for you.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It may well bake sense for densely populated states or areas to have different emissions standards than more open areas. Of course, CO2, which is the latest greenie fad, is, out of all possible emissions, the one with the lowest impact locally vs. relative to globally.

      In general, it always looks cheaper and easier to use a single standard for everything globally, since the savings from economies of scale is so obvious. But the hidden costs are huge, as doing so eliminates the kind of experimentation that lead to advances. Just of top of my head, I could easily imagine car makers selling cars with X year permission to operate on the roadways of states A,B,C……. based on differing emissions requirements there. And people being able to pick their poison and pay for it.

      In contrast, referring everything to the Federal Government, or the UN board of politically correct greenie babble, or whatever, while in the immediate term possibly cost saving, at the same time pretty much guarantees no advances will be made anywhere, since the process by which advances occur must now get around the lobbies of those who are already entrenched in whatever happen to be the system at any given time.

      In sum, local self rule is a good thing. Laws at the state level beats laws at the federal level. County beats state. City beats county. Neighborhood beats city. And household beats neighborhood. So if I want to park my car in some EV fanatics driveway or parking lot; well, I’ll just have to go get myself an EV. And that’s a good thing.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    20 years ago California was the envy of the World. The richest, most dynamic state in the richest, most dynamic county in the world. Now it is bankrupt and falling into an economic blackhole.

    A smart OEM, would tell them, you make your rules, and if we make products that can be legally sold in your state we will do so, but if we don’t we don’t and it will be your problem, not ours.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Is this the same CARB that proposed legislation to ban all black cars in California back in ’09?

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/carb-so-crazy/

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    California Air Resources Board released the original ZEV mandate around 1990. At the time, manufacturers were required to sell ZEV’s representing 2% of their California sales. They had the same goal then as today, to push EV’s.
    GM spent hundreds of $millions in good faith effort to develop the EV1 to comply with the law, despite the reality that battery technology was so poor. It is better, but still poor. Think of the Volt’s current technology battery as a $10,000 fuel tank that holds the equivalent of about 1 gallon of gas and weighs 50 times as much!

    All car makers, notably Toyota and Honda, successfully lobbyied California to defer the implementation of the original ZEV requirement, screwing GM.

    Having had the opportunity to meet with the CARB regulators back then, I found their arrogance and demand that carmakers will “just have to figure out how to do it” to be astounding. Unelected bureaucrats are the bane of American society!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Ah yes, more mandating what people want and buy. Yeah, that’s proven to be successful. Don’t these eggheads have this backwards, I mean a manufacturer can’t really force a certain percentage of people to buy something.

    “Hi, I want a 2011 Gas Guzzler SUV with a V12 engine and 35 inch tires”
    “Well, I need to sell you this electric car with a 31 HP 3 cylinder engine and 13 inch wheels. It’s quite lovely”
    “I think I’ll pass. How about a 700Hp corvette?”
    “Hmmm, we had 2 but they are gone. We’ve got lots of plug in cars, this one if fully charged”
    “Listen, if I wanted something charged up and ready to run, I’d ask your wife. I what a turbocharged direct injected 4X4″
    “Well sir, I have to direct you to the CA Department of Motor Vehicle Sales”
    “I’m outta here”


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