By on January 24, 2011

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.

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24 Comments on “EPA, CARB Align Emission Standards Schedules...”

  • avatar

    It sounds like one uniform standard would make sense, but it might not.  The higher standard may be beneficial in certain heavily polluted areas, but the cost might make the better standard not worth it for less polluted areas.  Still, I’d rather err on the side of tighter standards if it had to be.

  • avatar

    They are studying the “technical feasibility.” The standard IS feasible, technically, but has anyone bothered to ask the consumer if they want to drive a 1.0L 3 cylinder supermini?

    • 0 avatar

      That would never even cross the narrow-minds of our elected officials.

    • 0 avatar

      Touche’ on both comments.  The North American market for 1.0L supermini will be limited to a few quirky cheap skates who don’t transport children or ever take to the Interstate highways.
      Consumer preference is not the strong point of most eco-crats in Sacramento or in most other states that play follow the leader.

      The C.A.R.B in Sacramento is just the tip of the regulatory ice-berg that has sent manufacturing jobs out of California. It’s not just that it adds bloat to an already huge state budget, hence taxes, but also the cost of compliance versus setting up shop in a less regulatory state or to China.

    • 0 avatar

      1.0 can and will go on highways. Specially in America, flat long highways give these cars the time they need to put on high speeds. To maintain the high speed is not that difficult. Granted, you have no experience with small engines in America, but it’s pretty amazing what they can do.

      tHE consumer will not be ‘forced’ to buy such cars, they’ll be gentlu “nudged” by government (taxes) and market (high price of gas) forces.

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo, I respectfully disagree.  I have driven both 1.0 three cylinder and 1.2 to 1.3 four bangers in the past.
      They are slow to get up to speed.  They take to long for my liking to pass, especially when loaded down with people or cargo.  Plus, in our fly-over cities and countryside, the flow of traffic is near 80 mph and these little econo-boxes are running within an inch of their lives to keep up with the flow of traffic.
      Even in California on Interstate 5,  I’ve felt that I was pushing it to keep up with the flow of traffic in a Suzuki Swift.  Keep in mind that a 500 mile / 800 km drive is not unusual in between destinations. Oh by the way, we have hills where I live.

    • 0 avatar

      @Old & Slow: Oh, I don’t know about a 1.0 L being too small. I used to routinely drive a Yugo through Atlanta traffic, all 50 HP (and 4 forward gears) screaming like a banshee. Through judicious use of the gear shift lever, I never really felt like I was losing the race, but I did gain a new respect for tractor trailer rigs. Nowadays, our ‘big’ car is a Pontiac G6 2.4L with six speed autobox. Attempting to merge in Detroit’s traffic just requires a couple of tugs on the stick, the Ecotec can get our car up to extralegal speeds in no time. And this is an atmo motor carrying a car that’s fully loaded with options.
      I think a super mini with the right number of cogs in the box will be OK.

    • 0 avatar

      Nowadays, our ‘big’ car is a Pontiac G6 2.4L with six speed autobox.
      That’s a nice car, actually.  The 2.4L has something that won’t be available in a 1.0L, which is some low end torque and quietness on a long Interstate cruise.  I’ll bet the G6 revs under 2.5K RPM at 75 mph.

    • 0 avatar

      @Old & Slow: I believe that the reason why many of the new small cars have six speed transmissions is to make it feasible to move a bigger car with smaller motors. With advances in technology, we can get a lot more power and torque out of an atmo 1.0L motor now than we were able to 10 or 20 years ago.
      And yes, the Ecotec/6 speed is turning about 2200 RPM at 75 MPH. And I get 34+ MPG on long freeway drives. Frankly, if I would slow down, I could do even better.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi OldanSlow and geozinger

      Yes , they’ll scream, but they’ll go. When you’ve had better, it can get old quick, but many don’t mind. Some even have fun with it. When Michael Schumacher raced for Ferrari, in Brazil for the F1 GP, he’d use a Fiat Palio 1.0. When asked why he answered because it was fun. When asked to elaborate, he sais it was a challenge to run the car with the traffic and he enjoyed doing it.

      So, there’s no problem disagreeing OldandSlow.  but I stand by what I said. The cars will get there, they’ll just do it differently than what your generally used to.

      Geozinger, your Yugo is a good point. Imagine a car like that with the benefit of 20 or so years of development. You’ll be much impressed. Specially cause those small cars will carry all sorts of comforts (AC, power everything) and safety equip (ABS, air bags, ESP etc.), yet will be faster than yugo. but probably won’t be as visceral for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      @Marcelo: First, I must congratulate you on your excellent English reading and writing skills. I’ve read a number of your posts and you do very well. I know I would have a very hard time commenting on a blog somewhere else in the world even in my first-learned language, German.
      Second, you mention 20 years of development on the Yugo, and that is why I’m looking forward to seeing what Fiat will bring to the US. Although now that I’m older, I don’t know that I would really want a screamer like the 1.1 L Yugo, but the Fiat 500 looks like it might be a good little car to drive. ( I remember when Schuey was driving for Ferrari and had heard about his driving the Palio around. I wonder if he drives an A-Klasse Mercedes now?)
      I tend to agree with you, we will get there. Ten years ago I could not have imagined driving a car like my Pontiac (same size as the current Malibu) with a 2.4 L 4 cylinder engine.

    • 0 avatar


      Thanks for your kinds words, b ut you don’t do too shabbly yourself!

      As to Schumacher, I seem to recall a pic of him driving what looked like to me a Klasse B, but it could easily be an A! I’m not terribly familiar with the 2nd generation Class A, but they bear a semblance to the B.

      I’m sure the Cincuecento will have lots of sound proofing, so youwon’t hear the engine that much. But I’m pretty sure that Fiat won’t use the 1.0 Fire engine line at first. It’ll get 1,4 good for about 110 or so hp. Later you’ll get the Abarth version with a 1.4 turbo, good for 156hp. To get there you’ll have to rev it! Plus since it’s the sports version, it’ll be louder. Seems to me the cream of the 500 crop will be the lounge.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    California has led the way on US emissions standards since before there were national standards. As such, California was long ago granted the right to set standards which are tighter than the national standards, and the various other states are free to choose either the California or the Federal standards to use inside their borders.
    This is nothing new or nefarious. States rights libertarians might well argue that a state such as California with it’s highly concentrated large population might indeed have good reasons to set standards much tougher than those which might be appropriate in lightly populated states like North Dakota.
    Any auto maker which doesn’t want to put up with California’s requirements is free to do business elsewhere.

  • avatar

    How about they take over the NUMMI plant (like Hugo Chavez would) and build cars they want for CA and leave the rest of us alone.
    Then everyone is happy.

  • avatar

    “… feasibility of the proposed 62-mpg [by 2025] standard.”
    Wow, that’s only 14 years away.  Thinking back to new cars in 1997, we haven’t really come all that far in the past 14 years, why should we be so optimistic that the next 14 be so different?
    @dwford, the average car would be a 1.0L/3cyl.  There would also be bigger, less efficient cars that would have to be countered by correspondingly smaller, more efficient ones.  That is unless someone finally gets to the bottom of the gummint’ conspiracy coverup of the 100mpg carburettor that runs on water and unicorn farts… which will happen right after California finally solves its budget problems.
    @John Horner- you’re right; nothing new here, and what goes on in California is California’s business simple as that.  Granted, early on in the 1960s and 1970s CARB went about their business pretty clumsily, but now that they’ve been around close to 50 years nobody should be surprised by new California vs 49-state standards.  As much as I like to grouse about it, and I do like to, unless I move to the Golden State and start voting there then grousing is about all I have any business doing about it.

  • avatar
    Corky Boyd

    I thought the Feds and CARB worked out a single standard last year to prevent the patchwork problem.  At some point the auto companies should just stand aside and let CARB make idiots of themselves and then stop selling anything but electrics in CA. 

    CARB put the unworkable ZEV (all electric) 10% regs into effect in the late ’90s, then kept softening  and delaying them when they saw none of the manufacturers were playing the game.  The manufacturers group saved CARB the embarrasment of rescinding the rule when they won their case.

  • avatar

    While CARB setting its’ own auto standards might have been a good idea last century it is time the EPA grew a pair and shut down CARB’s ablity to set vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards.

  • avatar

    Anyone recall the ultra low emissions BMW 3 Series sold in CA and a few other markets? Need a new fuel pump? Well then, you will need to replace the entire fuel tank. Also, you’ll need to drop the entire rear suspension and exhaust to replace the tank. How does $6,000 parts & labour sound?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Yeah, that was the E46 325i sold in California. For whatever reason, the non-CARB 330i and M3 of the time were perfectly acceptable in California and don’t have the hilariously bass-ackwards “replace the fuel tank to change the fuel pump” service. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “How does $6,000 parts & labour sound?”
      It sounds like typical modern German engineering and business practices, that is how it sounds.

  • avatar

    Is that a pic of a component for a .049 Cox engine as used in the days of old when kids were bold and reveled in having digits impacted by whirling propellers?
    Also as used in some cars, usually radio controlled.
    Poor kids would beg, borrow or steal .049-powered planes, guided by hand-held strings, and propel them aloft minus engine assistance by spinning the body and using centrifugal force (or whatever the proper term is) to get and keep the aircraft aloft.
    Such was life in the po’ part of town.

  • avatar

    Now could please somebody enlighten about the actual need to force people in the 1L shitboxes?
    I am not talking about the “we=have-to-save-the-planet” reasoning. I would like to hear something more sound and reasoned. 
    See, I was born and grew up in the USSR – so please forgive me for being so behind times and retarded.
    We had no-choice offer of 1.0-1.6L engine propelled mobile contraptions with varying degree of crappiness. And I know well what it is to drive a 1.5L car with 4 people onboard and a half-ton trailer behind. On and Off-road.
    So now I want to have the choice and not being punished for that. Or being expected to feel guilty.

  • avatar

    Okay 2 dumb ideas

    1. California should get rid of CARB and rely on EPA  I don’t know what their budget is but it seems a bit redundent.

    2. The automakers should call California’s bluf and not sell them any cars.  Or if they are too chicken, raise the price of the Calif Smog Option

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