California Mandates Plug In Car Sales ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: California Mandates Plug In Car Sales

Monday, March 31, 2008

California Mandates Plug In Car Sales

CARBCalifornia Air Resources Board has decided automakers must sell at least 66,000 plug-in hybrid cars between 2012 and 2014. At the same time, they cut back on the number of electric cars or fuel-cell vehicles to 7,500 (it was 25,000 per year). See the fact sheet and the summary.

Car makers who sell more than 60,000 cars a year in California are being targeted. Which means GM, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chrysler and Honda are the ones being targeted. Anyone else is exempt. That includes Mercedes, BMW and VW for example.

Since GM and Toyota hope to have plug-in vehicles (the Chevy Volt and Plug-in Prius, respectively) by 2010, selling 66,000 between 2012 and 2014 means most of their inventory will be located in California. Ford has been testing plug-in Escapes Hybrids, but hasn't shown the least inclination to mass produce them.

Nissan, Honda and Chrysler may have real problems, however. None of them have plug-in cars in as advanced a stage as Toyota or GM (or at least, they haven't told the public about them). So how are they going to start selling them by 2012?

And then there's the question about who's going to buy these cars? Plug-in Hybrid Cars are going to be very expensive to start. The lowest estimate I've seen on the extra cost related to the battery and hybrid system is $10,000. The Volt will supposedly sell somewhere in the upper $30 to $40,000 range.

Will there be that many people willing to pay that much money on a new type of vehicle? GM has said they are planning on building 10,000 units in 2010, so it may be doable.

Source: Suddenly, a market for plug-ins - Automotive News

"That's the key question," GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss said. "Ultimately, the consumer is going to have to bear the cost of these technologies for us to move forward."
This is the fourth time CARB has had to change their rules.

"The new regulations require less than an average of 297 zero-emission vehicles per year per automaker, which is a 70 percent drop from the previous regulations, and results in a loss of at least 18,000 plug-in hybrids in the same period," said Plug In America, a California non-profit lobbying group for plug-in electric vehicles.

Press Release from CARB follows:

SACRAMENTO: The Air Resources Board today voted to triple the amount of zero emissions vehicles that staff had proposed for automakers to produce from 2012 through 2014, while directing staff to look at overhauling the program to account for climate change benefits.

Staff had proposed to require 2,500 pure zero emission vehicles, which the Board increased to 7,500. Automakers can produce fewer ZEVs, 5,357, if they are long-range fuel cell vehicles or they can opt to satisfy the requirement by manufacturing 12,500 battery electric vehicles with a range of 100 miles.

The Board maintained a second component of the vehicle emissions reduction program that allows the automakers flexibility in their alternative fuel programs by requiring an additional 58,000 plug-in hybrids during that same period. If the automakers produce 25,000 ZEVs, there are no remaining plug-in hybrid requirements.

Additionally, ARB Chairman Mary Nichols directed staff to overhaul the ZEV program for 2015 vehicles to synch up with other Board tailpipe emission programs such as the Pavley regulations addressing greenhouse gas emissions and the low emissions vehicle program.

“Today's decision will lead to more green auto choices for consumers now while keeping the pressure on the automotive engineers to continue fine tuning the technologies that will yield an all electric-drive vehicle fleet for California in the near future,” Nichols said. “We must continue to push for all types of technologies -- fuel cells, electric vehicles and hydrogen powered cars -- as we fight our duel battles against smog and global warming.”

Created in 1990, the ZEV program seeks to spur technological advancements in the automobile industry that lead to more clean cars on California’s roadways. The ZEV program is the world’s only enforceable requirement for development and production of zero emissions vehicles.

As a direct result of the ZEV program, over 750,000 Californians are currently driving vehicles with near-zero emissions and an extended emissions warranty of 15 years or 150,000 miles. They are 80 percent cleaner than the average 2002 model year car. Today's action will assure many more near-zero and zero emission vehicles on California's roads in the near future.

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