The Truth About Cars » CARB The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » CARB Tesla Leads Sellers of CARB ZEV Credits, Chrysler Biggest Buyer Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:19:46 +0000 CARB-transfers-out-550x385

According to data released by the California Air Resources Board, CARB, Tesla Motors was the top seller of the zero-emission vehicle credits that regulatory board requires car makers to have if they want to sell cars in that state. Toyota was the top seller of hybrid-car credits.

Tesla sold 1,311.52 ZEV credits from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30 this year. Suzuki Motor Corp., the next biggest seller, transferred about 41 credits. Though Suzuki no longer sells cars in the United States, they still have credits accumulated from prior sales. Toyota transferred 507.5 plug in zero emission vehicle credits generated by its Prius hybrid. General Motors Co. acquired the same number as Toyota sold, so presumably GM bought them from its Japanese rival.


Buyers of CARB ZEV credits.

Automakers, if they want to sell cars and light trucks in California, must sell EVs or other zero emissions vehicles in proportion to their market share in the state.  The goal is to have a million and a half ZEVs on California roads by the year 2025. If companies generate more credits than their sales require, CARB allows those credits to be sold. Each Tesla Model S earns the company as many as 7 ZEV credits, the maximum issued by California.

Companies listed by CARB as buying ZEV credits over the past 12 months were Chrysler Group LLC, GM; Honda Motor Co.; Jaguar Land Rover; Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru; and Volkswagen AG. CARB does not keep track of specific trades or prices, saying the goal is for all automakers covered under California law are compliant.

Some indication of the pricing can be found in company financial reports. Tesla reported that 12% of it’s revenue in the first six months of 2013 came from ZEV credit sales amounting to $119 million. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the company’s ZEV credit sales will decline in the second half of the year.

]]> 23
Piston Slap: Fix my Bro-Ham, Sanjeev! Tue, 30 Apr 2013 13:48:15 +0000

Mark writes:

Hello Sanjeev,

I have a problem and hope you can help me. My Cadillac Brougham with the 307 V8 smells like gas under the hood. This is intermittent and the last time it was in the shop the mechanic found no leaks under the car or around the carb.

I did some internet searching and have heard all kinds of things including I probably used the wrong kind of gas. Apparently cars like mine can’t burn premium fuel completely and there might be residual gas left in the engine. My other cars use premium so I could have pumped 91 octane by mistake. Could that be it?

If it was a leak why wouldn’t it smell all the time?

I’m frustrated to the point where chancing it is an option so let me ask you this if you can’t fix it… if it is a small leak what’s the worst that can happen? I mean doesn’t modern reformulated gasoline have such a high flash point that I needn’t worry, except for the smell? Gas smell doesn’t really bother me.

If I took a fire extinguisher around with me could I “catch” a small fire under the hood in time to avoid damaging my paint? Are there warning signs, like smoke, before flames start to actually melt things? Does fire extinguisher residue clean up pretty easily?

Many thanks,

SANJEEV answers:

Mark: I’m searching for a clever–yet benign–way to spell your name wrong, but I got nothing.  Plus, you got a machine that’s right up my Super Classy Alley, so I’ll proudly bestow my Sajeev Magic** on that sweet, sweet ‘Lac.

Old cars do stupid things because they are…wait for it…old. And you are freaking out with eleventy billion superfluous questions because of it: Fire extinguisher residue concerns?  Really???

Stay calm: it’s all good, son! Leaks happen anywhere with old rubber and gaskets, especially with today’s ethanol-blend fuel added to the mix. (Literally.) If your carb’s never been rebuilt from the ground up, now’s the time.  I betcha an internal seal is leaking, pouring fuel down the motor’s throat when it isn’t required.  Perhaps it’s when the motor is cooling down (adding space between the seal’s gaps) and when the bowl is at a certain fill level.  Or not.  But whatever the internal fail, it’s only gonna get worse from here.

I had the same problem on an older EFI car, the fuel injectors were leaking internally and the smell was horrid. You can’t see an internal leak, but you sure-as-shit can smell it. So let’s address everything. Are there any rubber fuel lines under the hood?  Replace them now, they are cheap too.  Did ya install a fancy external glass fuel filter with a removable cartridge? Throw it away and get a conventional sealed filter. Don’t know a good carburetor tech in your area?  Look harder, because now is the time.

About your Premium fuel problem, yes you are wrong for using it, but only your checking account is pissed at you. Premium fuel won’t damage an engine or leave unburned deposits above and significantly beyond a normal used motor. If you’re really concerned, you can run Seafoam in the intake and fuel system followed by an Italian Tune Up to really clean things out. After you have someone blow apart the carb and rebuild it.


**Patent pending. Or not.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

]]> 38
Review: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Sun, 02 Sep 2012 13:00:44 +0000

Public beta tests are common in the computer world where a group of fanatics pound your beta to death and help you find the problems. In the automotive world this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent on dressing future cars in swirly vinyl. The Prius plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to large corporations, Zipcar fleets and, of course the press. Even TTAC was allowed to drive one for a week. What does that have to do with the final product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, Plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

There is little to distinguish the Plug-in from the “normal” Prius save the charging door on the right rear quarter panel and (if you’re in California) and the green HOV access stickers. The lack of distinctiveness is either a benefit or a drawback depending on how loud you want to proclaim your “greenness.” The lack of differentiation made financial sense for Toyota as the Prius is rumored to be redesigned for the 2015 model year. Compared to the beta car, Toyota relocated the charging port to the rear meaning I had to back into parking spots to use some public charging stations. Ever wondered why the LEAF’s port is in the nose? Now you know.

Because the Prius’ chassis was designed for a large battery, no changes to the passenger compartment were required. The cargo area is a different story. The regular Prius operates in EV mode up to 42MPH with a range of two miles if you are extremely gentle on the throttle. The plug-in’s range is 11-15 miles thanks to a bigger battery. Toyota achieved the capacity increase by using denser lithium-ion batteries (instead of nickel hydride) and converting the spare tire area into a battery compartment. The result is an increase in capacity from 1.3kWh to 4.4kWh at the cost of the spare and the jack. The beta car used a 5.2kWh battery pack that was segmented into one 1.2kWh pack and two 2kWh packs. The reason for the change was the three pack arrangement wasn’t as efficient and the beta testers complained there was no way to regenerate power back into the dual 2kWh packs once they were exhausted.

A 3.1kWh jump doesn’t sound like much until you understand how the Prius uses the battery. To preserve the life of the battery, a regular Prius will never fully discharge or charge the battery (batteries “wear” faster when their charge state is at either extreme), reducing the usable capacity to around 0.6kWh. For plug-in duty, Toyota expanded this usable capacity to somewhere around 4.2kWh. In comparison, the Volt’s usable capacity is around 12.9kWh and the 2013 Accord plug-in is 6kWh.

Under the hood you will find the same 1.8L, 98HP engine and “power splitting device” as a regular Prius. The engine and electric motors even put out the same combined 134HP. I know what Prius owners are thinking: Hang on, if it’s the same drivetrain, why is my Prius limited to 42MPH in EV mode? You won’t find the answer under the hood, it’s the battery and the software. The Prius’ traction motor (MG2) is the motor connected to the wheels and depending on how you look at the way the transaxle works (great link for tech-heads at, MG2 is doing most of the work when you’re moving forward. That’s why MG2 is an 81HP motor. The “problem” with the regular Prius is the discharge rate. The 1.4kWh NiMH battery can deliver only 36HP peak and 27HP of continuous power. The plug-in’s larger batter on the other hand is capable of delivering 51HP of continuous power. If your power demands exceed the neighborhood of 51HP, then the engine turns on to make up the difference up to 134. This new battery pack has another benefit: greater regeneration capacity. On my daily commute I go over a 2,200ft mountain pass, a regular Prius’ battery would be full around 1,700ft. Because the plug-in was able to regenerate all the way down, I gained 7 miles of EV range to make up for the extra gas it took to get me up the hill in the first place.

The Prius isn’t an EV, and it’s not trying to be a “Toyota Volt” either. Yet, it’s more than just a CARB compliance car as well. Unlike the Volt, Fisker, or even the new Accord Hybrid, the Prius can’t live without its engine. Even for short drives. If you floor the car, the engine comes on, and while the beta car had a slick heat-pump to heat the cabin, the production car uses engine heat like a regular Prius. Instead, the Prius plug-in is a new type of car where locomotion blends two different fuel sources trading a portion of the gasoline you pay $4.35 a gallon for in California for electricity at $0.10-$0.15 per kWh. The coming Ford plug-in hybrids operate in essentially the same way.

Let’s look at these numbers in terms of a commute. I drive 106 miles a day, and my commute involves city, highway and rural mountain roads. Starting with fuel economy without charging: the Volt averaged 33MPG, the Prius averaged 50 and the Prius plug-in averaged 52. (Credit the greater ability to regenerate for the improved figure.) With charging on both ends of my commute, the Volt averaged 40MPG, and the Prius plug-in averaged 72MPG.

According to our calculations, if your commute is under 27 miles total, or 27 miles each way with charging on either end at $0.15/kWh, the Volt is the cheaper vehicle to run. The more expensive the electricity, the better the Prius’s proposition. Even at $4.35 a gallon gasoline. My average rate at home is $0.27/kWh due to my agricultural rate which bumps the operational cost of the Volt higher than the Prius plug-in at anything over a 1-mile distance. Check your rates before you plug-in.

On the road, the plug-in behaves just like a regular Prius thanks to gaining only 150lbs. As you would expect, the low rolling resistance tires deliver moderate road noise and precious little grip. The steering is numb a bit over-boosted, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. Is that a problem? Not in my mind. The Prius’ mission is efficiency and not driving pleasure.

When in EV mode, exceeding 3/4 throttle will cause the engine to start, something I still think is a pity. Still, the plug-in is perfectly capable of tacking mountainous terrain in pure EV mode. At speeds above about 50MPH you have to be more gentle on the throttle in order to prevent the engine from kicking in and at 62 the engine starts no matter how ginger you are. If it’s a cold day outside and you’re using the cabin heater, the Prius’ engine will turn on immediately and run to keep the cabin warm. Unlike a regular Prius , if you are in EV mode,  the engine will be essentially idling and generating a small amount of power as long as you keep your speed under 62.

Although the battery and motor are likely capable of speeds greater than 62MPH, the system’s design requires the engine to be spinning. This means that in “EV mode” above 62MPH, the EV battery provides the majority of the energy while the engine essentially idles. In this operation, we were easily getting 180 MPG while on a level freeway traveling 70MPH for 9-10 miles.

With a starting price of $32,000, or $40,285 if you prefer your hybrid fully-loaded, the Prius plug-in has a limited market in mind. You either need to want the latest in Prius tech, or be willing to pay $8,000 to use the HOV lanes for a few years. While I do believe it would be possible to eventually save money vs a regular Prius, it will take an eternity and some serious number crunching. On my commute it would take 300,000 miles for the plug-in to break even with a $24,000 Prius. If your commute is 24 miles a day, then the break even drops to 130,000 miles. But at 24 miles a day, it would take you 20 years. Still, there is that HOV lane to consider. On my route the HOV stickers would cut my daily travel by 30 minutes or  11 hours a month. How much is that worth to you? If your answer isn’t: $8,000, then click on over to our Prius C review. While the Prius plug-in may make sense for a select few, the Toyota’s beta program still succeeded in several ways. Toyota implemented some major changes to the battery systems as a result of the feedback and gained a non-stop flow of reviews in the process. If only Bentley could do the same.


Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and fuel for this review.

Fuel economy average over 583miles: 65

Percent of time in EV mode: 20%

Performance statistics as tested:

0-30: 3.4 seconds

0-60: 10.0 seconds

¼ Mile: 17sec @ 79 MPH


2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, rear seats,  Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Prius Plug In Hybrid, charging door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail














]]> 171
California Volt Drivers Get Carpool Lane Access Mon, 30 Jan 2012 18:39:46 +0000

Starting in March, the Chevrolet Volt will be eligible to use the HOV lane on California highways. The catch? You have to buy a new Volt to use the carpool lane.

General Motors added a secondary air-injection pump to the Volt’s catalytic converter in order for the Volt to meet certain emission requirements. The Volt will also qualify for a further $1,500 in tax credits as well as the HOV lane sticker. Any Volts sold before the new package comes into effect are shut out, and GM has been strategically reducing allocation of the cars to prepare for the launch of the revised Volt.

]]> 48
CARB Wants 15.4 Percent Of New Cars To Be Plug-In, Hydrogen By 2025 Sat, 28 Jan 2012 19:56:06 +0000 CARB has mandated that 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold in California by 2025 must be plug-in, electric or fuel cell powered. The new mandate was supported by major OEMs and could mean as many as 1.4 million zero-emissions vehicles (as well as plug-in cars) on California roads by 2025.

Regulators are hoping to offer additional incentives and credits to spur sales of the vehicles. Hydrogen re-fueling infrastructure will also be supported, though details of how this would be approached were scant. The new rules would also favor vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, as CARB feels that it is closer to an electric vehicle than a conventional plug-in hybrid. The Volt has been dubbed a “transitional zero-emission vehicle”.

Organizations such as the California New Car Dealers Association say that demand for these types of vehicles has been overestimated, but CARB chair Mary Nichols told a conference call that car manufacturers were in favor of the new rulings. “Probably the most heartening aspect of this whole rulemaking was the level of cooperation that we received from the industry. Overall, the degree of support for the package was just extraordinary.”

]]> 43
Piston Slap: Playing Super Breakout by Itself? Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:00:21 +0000  

C.V. writes:

I am a mechanical engineering student looking to learn how to work on cars.

My friend has given me the opportunity to take his 1988 Mazda B2200 extra-cab 5-speed. When I drove it, I saw why. The catalytic converter has broken off, and apparently pieces of it are in the exhaust. Would it be possible to just replace the catalytic converter, or should I replace the whole exhaust?

Also while driving it, there is a weird problem. About 10 or so minutes after startup and driving, it starts bucking back and forth as if I was engaging and disengaging the clutch. Any idea as to why that is happening? Theoretically the truck could drive even with this problem, but I don’t think it’s safe or good for the truck. What should I do?

Sajeev answers:

It wasn’t long ago that I was an mechanical engineering student looking to work on cars.  Hell, it’s way more fun than a semester of Thermodynamics, Solid and Fluid Mechanics! So what’s my advice?  Join the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a student and join the local chapter in your college.  The SAE chapter at the University of Texas changed my life, in a good way. And if you don’t have a chapter?  MAKE ONE!

Oh wait…you wanted advice on the truck, not your career. My bad.

The first problem is pretty easy, replace the convertor. Or not: eventually the loose bits of honeycomb inside will stop playing Super Breakout with itself, exit stage left, and it still might pass an emissions test.  If not, any exhaust shop can slap in a new one, and I just Googled one for $270 that’s a direct replacement.  I am sure you college kids use Google all the time, why not for a sweet little truck?

The second one is usually a combination of a poor gear change technique and a lack of fuel.  Or maybe too much fuel.  Does it buck less if you give it more gas and take more time to let out the clutch?  Problem solved. If not, I’d recommend rebuilding the carb, seafoaming the motor (at your own risk, see YouTube for reasons why), and testing the fuel pressure.  Actually not in that order: start with fuel pressure, then maybe learn how to work on a carb.

Or convert it to a later-model EFI setup! Or even better, LS1-FTW!!! You are an engineer for a reason!

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

]]> 12
CARB To Bump ZEV Mandate, Automakers Fight Back Sat, 11 Jun 2011 21:01:44 +0000

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.

]]> 16
EPA, CARB Align Emission Standards Schedules Tue, 25 Jan 2011 01:30:37 +0000

California, the perennial thorn in the side of the EPA’s emissions-regulation scheme, has bowed to federal pressure and will wait until September of this year to release its 2017-2025 Model Year emissions standard proposal, by which time the EPA will be ready to announce its own national scheme. Prior to today’s announcement, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) had “announced its intention” to release its proposal in March, a move which had automakers scrambling to complain to congress of the apparent lack of unity on emissions standards. GM and Chrysler even endured a (somewhat predictable) Naderite drubbing in the WaPo in order to to join the howls against the emerging “patchwork of state and national standards!”

Luckily for the automakers, CARB was willing to play ball. Per the WSJ:

Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, said the state agreed to the White House’s timetable after being assured the new fuel-economy targets would be based on studies currently being done on the feasibility of the proposed 62-mpg [by 2025] standard.

The studies are examining the technological and financial ramifications of the proposed standard, he said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the results of the final data from the engineering studies,” Mr. Young said. He added that the board has always cooperated with the EPA and DOT and plans to continue to do so.

Then why stir up the pot by telling the world that you’ll create a de facto standard while the EPA is still looking at the engineering studies? If CARB was looking for ways to add to its resume of ill-advised overreaches, it succeeded admirably. If, on the other hand, it wanted to be seen as the lead partner in a national standard, it would have agreed to a joint announcement in the first place. Regardless of where the standards are set, surely even CARB understands that a truly national standard is the single most important achievement to be won in this process. Oh, and “making sure all the evidence was duly reviewed before ruling” should probably be the second most important.

]]> 24
California Denies Volt AT-PZEV Status, Tax Rebate, HOV Access Wed, 28 Jul 2010 17:26:06 +0000

With Chevy’s Volt priced at an eye-popping $41k before tax breaks, those tax breaks are now more important than ever. The first 200k Volts will qualify for up to $7,500 in federal credits, but Chevrolet had to be hoping for state incentives on top of the federal credit, especially in the key launch state of California. For a number of reasons though, the Volt doesn’t meet California’s requirements for Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles, and will lose out on a $5,000 tax credit that’s available to its cheaper competitor, the Nissan Leaf. As a result, the Leaf will cost Californians who qualify for both full credits about $20k, while the Volt will cost about $33,500. Moreover, the Leaf will have full access to California’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes while the Volt will not, unless a pending bill before California’s state Senate passes. Together, these developments represent a serious advantage for the Leaf over the Volt in what is almost certain to be the world’s largest market for electric cars in the short-to-medium term. So how did GM let this happen?

Greencarreports‘ John Voelcker says California’s evaporative emissions standards may well have scuttled any attempt at certifying the Volt as an AT-PZEV, and regardless of the actual reason, it’s clear that the Volt’s hybrid drivetrain was a factor. The Volt’s range-extended electric drivetrain concept, which delivers very different results based on driving and charging patterns, is still confusing the EPA’s efficiency testers, and it seems the gas-electric compromise was never going to meet California’s strict standards. According to EVWorld

GM decided in 2007 when it committed to series production of the Volt, to not seek California Air Resources Board AT-PZEV certification. Instead, the decision was made to certify the car in all 50 United States. ARB certification would have required, both GM executives explained, additional testing and since California’s air quality regulators had yet to figure out how to classify the Volt, GM felt it was more important to continue the accelerated development program and get the car out by the Fall of 2010 then wait for ARB to come up with a way to categorize what will be for many drivers essentially an all-electric car, while for other who driver further distances each day, a hybrid.

In other words, because GM rushed the Volt to market, it put its wundercar at a devastating competitive disadvantage in its most crucial market. Luckily for the Volt, California’s fiscal crisis has already largely solved the problem. Facing a budget shortfall in the tens of billions of dollars, California has only funded its plug-in tax rebate by $4m, meaning that if Leaf drivers use all the available funding, only 820 cars would have been subsidized this year. Next year, California is expected to renew the program for only $8m, meaning only about 1,600 plug-in purchases will be covered. GM reckons that, with so little money at stake, it doesn’t need to bother certifying to the California standard until 2012. With more than a few eyeballs still bulging at the Volt’s $41k pricetag, however, GM could probably have used all the help it could possibly get.

]]> 71
California Cool Car Rules Dropped Sun, 28 Mar 2010 18:17:10 +0000

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.

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.
]]> 42
California Threatens To Move Fuel Economy Goalposts. Again. Wed, 20 Jan 2010 20:52:39 +0000 Doh! (

The Detroit Free Press reports that a recent filing by the California Air Resources Board [Full filing in PDF format here] threatens that a rapid ramp-up to the proposed 35.5 mpg 2016 standard and a reduction in zero-emission vehicle credits are necessary “to ensure California’s continued support.” CARB spokesman Stanley Young explains that “what we wanted to do is convey the level of importance for these two issues,” and that it’s “too early” to say whether California will withdraw from its compromise with the Obama administration. Still, the threat of a California withdrawal should be enough to get some attention in Washington, as Obama adviser David Axelrod has called the emissions compromise one of the administration’s top accomplishments of 2009.

CARB’s first complaint is that, though Obama promised to harmonize national emissions standards with California for 2016, the current proposed rule allows for more leeway in the 2011-2015 model-years.

While the proposed national passenger motor vehicle greenhouse gas standards are of equal stringency to the Pavley [California] regulations in the 2016 model year, they are less stringent than the Pavley standards in the 2011 through 2015 model years.  Consequently, allowing manufacturers to comply with the Pavley regulations in the 2012 through 2015 model years by demonstrating compliance with the national regulations in these model years will result in slightly less reduction in greenhouse gas reductions within California and the individual states that have adopted California’s program.  However, staff believes that nationwide, greenhouse gas emission reductions from the proposed national GHG program – assuming California’s comments on the proposed rulemaking are affirmatively addressed – will be greater than if the Pavley program were implemented without the national GHG program. This occurs because although the proposed national standards are less stringent than California’s in model years 2012 through 2015, the national standards apply to more than twice as many vehicles than are subject to the Pavley regulations.

Though the CARB’s zeal is impressive, messing with the ramp-up to an agreed-upon 2016 standard is overreaching for relatively marginal gains… at a considerably higher cost to the auto manufacturers. If this were the only issue, CARB might well have stayed silent and sucked up the slower ramp-up as part of the cost of compromise. The second issue, however, is far more real.

The CARB filing notes:

EPA believes that electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases more significantly than any commercially-available technologies, and ARB fully agrees with this.  EPA is, therefore, proposing that additional credits be given to these advanced technologies in the 2012 through 2016 model years, in order to encourage their development.

These advanced technology credits would take the form of multipliers in the range of 1.2 to 2.0, allowing an EV, PHEV, or FCV to count as more than one vehicle during the calculation of a manufacturer’s fleet average CO2 level to determine compliance with the applicable footprint-based standard.  These multipliers would not be applied when calculating the actual footprint-based
CO2 standard to which a manufacturer must comply.  (Footprint is determined by multiplying the vehicle’s wheelbase by the vehicle’s average track width.  The greenhouse gas standards being proposed by EPA are expressed as mathematical functions that depend on vehicle footprint.)

In addition, EPA is proposing to assign a value of zero grams per mile of CO2 for EVs and for the electric portion of PHEV operation, when including these vehicles in a manufacturer’s average.   EPA acknowledges that there are =upstream CO2 emissions from electricity generation, which are produced during EV and PHEV charging.  Similarly there are upstream emissions from hydrogen production for FCVs.  However, EPA feels that the significant greenhouse gas emission reductions that may be achieved from this technology outweighs the dis-benefits of ignoring these emissions within this  timeframe.

Staff agrees with EPA’s goal of encouraging the early development and production of advanced technology vehicles.  However, staff believes that the approach proposed by EPA could allow manufacturers to earn unreasonably high numbers of credits, thereby potentially reducing the overall GHG reductions achieved by the national program and delaying the implementation of improved greenhouse gas technologies on conventional vehicles.

Consequently, staff believes that EPA’s Final Rule must strike a better balance between advanced vehicle development and protecting greenhouse gas reductions by assigning average lifecycle emissions to these vehicles, and restricting credits to EVs and FCVs only.

Having looked into the credit multiplier loophole, we agree wholeheartedly that it’s rife for abuse, especially in respect to Flex Fuel (ethanol) Vehicle credits. On the whole, the “super credit” program incentivizes automakers to build zero- and low-emissions vehicles without regard for marketability, to make up for a fleet that could be otherwise way out of compliance. Under this system the environment and consumers lose out equally.

Still, California is walking on thin ice. Politically, the Obama administration can’t afford to see one of its few major accomplishments of the last year fall apart. But then it can’t afford to burden the auto industry it now owns a stake in with CARB-approved toughness either. Meanwhile, other states are weighing in with concerns about implementing the new GHG emissions standards. Hell, California’s own Energy Commission is asking the EPA to delay the implementation of GHG standards entirely. This is why they call politics the art of the compromise.

]]> 20