The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is supposed to vote on stricter rules that will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 later today. But we already know what the results will be because the organization is about as mentally homogeneous as a eusocial insect colony and is strongly supported by the state government. So let’s cut to the chase and hear what California has to look forward to before seeing what kind of combustion bans are taking place in other parts of the world.
Last week, a group of Republican attorneys general decided to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to reinstate the waiver allowing California to set its own limitations on exhaust gasses and zero-emission vehicle mandates that would exceed federal standards.
The agency approved the waiver after it had been eliminated as part of the Trump administration’s fuel rollback on the grounds that it would create a schism within the industry by forcing automakers to produce vehicles that catered to the Californian market at the expense of products that might be appreciated in other parts of the country. However, Joe Biden’s EPA sees things differently and has aligned itself with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in giving the state more leeway to govern itself in regard to emissions policing.
Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looks poised to reinstate California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act — allowing the state to establish stricter tailpipe emissions than the federal limits — the coastal region has resumed its quest to abolish gasoline-powered vehicles in earnest. While the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has yet to finalize all the details, the latest proposal calls for strengthened emissions standards for new light-duty vehicles in anticipation of the necessary approvals.
The scheme would require pure electrics and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) to make up 35 percent of new-vehicle sales for the 2026 model year. By 2030, that number will become 68 percent before hitting 100 percent for MY 2035. CARB said zero-emission vehicles comprised 12.4 percent of the state’s new market in 2021, hinting that the number could have been higher without the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule Part One having stifled its progress.
Early adopters willing to toss cash at an exciting idea have been the lifeblood of modern-day electric vehicles. Without investors believing in Tesla and cramming its sweet cheeks full of cash, it never would have gotten to a point where it could actually manufacture cars. The same is true for the thousands of people dropping deposits on vehicles that have yet to be produced, let alone tested by the community.
It’s time to do the same for American hybrid truck designer Nikola, true believers. The all-electric startup is now accepting deposits on its prospective pickup truck. Due to arrive in a few years, the unit currently has no prototype. Under normal circumstances, we’d continue ribbing the company via monthly updates until it dissolves like Faraday Future. But its ludicrous market valuation seems to indicate that the hype is very real, even if the same cannot be said about its products.
On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed a $454 billion plan aimed at converting the United States from a gasoline-powered nation to one driven primarily by electricity. Under the 10-year plan, automotive consumers would get rebates ranging from $3,000 to over $5,000 (based on efficiency), plus another $2,000 for low-income buyers, for the purchase of electric vehicles made in America.
“This proposal to bring clean cars to all of America will be a key component of the far-reaching climate legislation from Senate Democrats, and I’m proud it has a broad coalition of support,” the senior senator said in a statement.
Much like the haphazard way Schumer insists on wearing glasses at the outermost tip of his nose, begging for gravity to take them, his plan has us mildly concerned.
Following announcements that Toyota would be working on a shared electric vehicle platform with Subaru, as well as a jointly developed crossover, the brand conducted a press conference on Friday regarding its decision to “popularize BEVs.” While the announcement didn’t deal with the specifics of cutting-edge tech, auxiliary business opportunities, or even a total shift toward battery electric vehicles, it did represent a major commitment from a manufacturer that’s notoriously cautious in its decision making.
Opening the conference, Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi focused largely on the challenges of electrification. Terashi said Toyota’s intent has always been to support “social progress” and curb CO2 emissions while acknowledging that it had only made formal commitments to electrification within the last couple of years. However, he showed that the automaker has been busy within that time, and had several initiatives in the works aimed at repositioning Toyota as a mobility brand, by outlining the company’s extremely complex EV strategy.
Buckle up, because there is a lot to this — including some new cars.
It’s no secret that California plans to ignore any federal ruling that soften emissions regulations on automobiles. The state’s already suing the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the data used to justify the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of vehicle emission standards. It has also recruited leadership in other states to join the cause and adopt its zero-emission-vehicle strategy.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has already signed an executive order directing the state to follow California’s path — joining with Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and other participating states toward a common cause. However, the battle isn’t over yet. Industry lobbyist are hard at work changing minds, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) seems to be making progress with Colorado.
Hyundai’s Kona Electric is gradually seeping into select dealerships across the United States, requiring the company to (finally) make a definitive statement about its price. While our time spent with the model was brief, it left a positive initial impression. Clearly targeting the likes of Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3, the Kona EV did a fine job standing its ground and injecting a fun persona into alternative-energy vehicles.
While good, we held off on declaring it a modern masterpiece until we knew how much Hyundai planned to sell it for. Too expensive and people will tune out because, despite its unique charms, it’s technically still a subcompact crossover from a budget-friendly automaker — slick electric powertrain notwithstanding. Too cheap and the company is basically throwing money out the window, as the model is unlikely to be manufactured in high volumes and the brand can fall back on the federal government’s EV tax credits to absorb some of the cost.
The State of Colorado will be the next territory in the United States to join California in embracing electric vehicles. Democratic Governor Jared Polis has signed an executive order (his very first) proposing that the zero-emission vehicle rule be enacted no later than May of 2019. The rule would require automakers to sell more electric cars within the state each year until it reaches utopian status.
However, that could still be decades away. Thus far, Polis has only asked the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment to propose new rules to the Air Quality Control Commission over the coming months. As of now, there are no official rules stipulating how many EVs need to be sold every year. And California, which started is ZEV program years ago, estimates electric vehicles will account for between 8 and 9 percent of all new car sales within the state by 2025.
It didn’t seem like it was all that long ago when the idea of an electric pickup was patently ridiculous. Now, they’re emerging from the woodwork like an incestuous family of rats. Workhorse first unveiled the W-15 in 2017, Rivian followed with the R1T less than a year later, and Tesla aims to reveal its own all-electric pickup sometime before 2020. In the interim, Atlis Motor Vehicles is putting the finishing touches on its own electric truck — the all-new XT.
Unlike some of its would-be competition, the XT is banking on ability rather than accessibility. Atlis wants to offer a proper full-sized pickup that doesn’t sacrifice anything just because it’s electric. The company promises payloads of up to 5,000 pounds and a dually version capable of towing 35,000 pounds up a 6-percent grade at 65 mph. It also suggests a ludicrous maximum range, meaningful suspension options, plenty of new automotive tech, and advanced driving aids that will (of course) someday evolve into fully autonomous transportation.
Perhaps — but Norway treats EV owners like royalty.
Battery electric vehicles are not subject to most of that country’s automotive taxes, are subsidized via credits, and are frequently offered free parking and charging points as a way to further encourage drivers to get away from gasoline and diesel. Norway is also working aggressively toward banning all gas-powered vehicles by 2025.
According to Reuters, the strategy is working. The independent Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said Wednesday that electric cars rose to 31.2 percent of all sales last year. EVs represented 20.8 percent of the country’s overall sales in 2017 and just 5.5 percent in 2013.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow announced Monday that the Trump administration is seeking an end to federal subsidies on electric cars. Interestingly, the move appears to be related to General Motors’ plant closings and layoffs. The company’s restructuring plan hasn’t gone over well with policy makers or the American public, with many accusing the automaker of abusing years of tax breaks, only to reduce its workforce as a way of pursuing new technologies, businesses, and further bolstering its profit margins.
However, cutting GM out of the electric vehicle subsidies deal is more likely to impact its rivals than anything else. The company said it’s on the cusp of the EV tax credit ceiling already, with the gradual phase-out of those incentives likely to take place through 2019. Yet Kudlow pointed to the elimination of the credits as one way of punishing GM for eliminating so many jobs, echoing President Donald Trump’s threats from last last week.
“As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies,” Kudlow explained. “And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it’s for renewables and so forth.”
General Motors’ vice president of global strategy, Mike Abelson, recently confessed to the Detroit Free Press that the automaker has spoken with “air taxi” companies about using the carmaker’s autonomous and electric vehicle technology to produce flying cars.
“There will be some sort of air transport that will get integrated with this AV/EV technology,” Abelson said during Financial Times’ Future of the Car Summit in Detroit.
Not being ones for the fantastical, we were immediately dismissive of any air taxi service occurring any time soon. However, the real takeaway from the interview wasn’t that GM wanted to build flying cars — it was that the brand doesn’t seem to have much faith in widespread EV adoption. From the sound of things, General Motors thinks flying cars have more market potential than an electric pickup truck.
Mercedes-Benz says it has begun deliveries of the GLC F-Cell, a battery-electric vehicle that can run on hydrogen or a stored electrical charge. That would make it the most sensible hydrogen vehicle currently in existence, which isn’t saying much.
At any rate, it doesn’t really matter because you’ll probably never see one.
Jaguar has delivered its first I-Pace electric crossover in North America, a little ahead of next month’s retail sales, to a picture-perfect family living in Florida. Who are these fortunate environmentalists? None other than Lakewood Ranch residents Mark and Holly Pascarella, according to Jaguar Land Rover’s Tuesday press release and the multitude of auto outlets that reported it as news without commentary.
“When you have a family of five you always need space, so we were looking for an SUV,” explained Mr. Pascarella. “We’ve always had a seven-passenger SUV, but one of my daughters just went off to college, so now a five-passenger SUV will be large enough. When I looked at the I-PACE I could see that it was a typical first-class product made by Jaguar, with top of the line appointments and great looks. It doesn’t look like a typical SUV, and on top of that, being electric was very appealing.”
Based on Mark’s very natural and clearly unprompted manner of speaking, it certainly sounds like the perfect automotive product for families living in a city with an average household income of $100,991 — which, coincidentally, is exactly the case in Lakewood Range, Florida. Plus, it has that coveted electric appeal, allowing you to indicate you’re environmentally conscious when you aren’t firing up your other Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V8 every morning.