The California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted last week to revise its ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) Mandate that was first adopted in 1990 and has since been changed five times now. The newest revisions ease up on automakers, now calling for 7,500 zero-emission vehicles to be sold in California between 2012 and 2014, down from 25,000 that were called for in the last revision made in 2003. A zero-emissions vehicle includes a pure electric vehicle or one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, though CARB also ruled that the its ZEV Mandate could be partially met with a new category of vehicles it calls Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial-Zero Emissions Vehicle, or Enhanced AT PZEV. These include plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt or vehicles with internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen like the BMW Hydrogen 7.

In addition to reducing the number of ZEVs that must be sold between 2012 and 2014, CARB also demanded that automakers sell at least 66,000 plug-in hybrids during the same time period. Ford is working on a plug-in hybrid Escape and GM a plug-in hybrid Saturn VUE, while Toyota is also developing a plug-in version of its popular Prius. While this goal seems somewhat realistic to us depending on how willing consumers will be to swallow the premium price of a plug-in hybrid, achieving 7,500 ZEVs sold in less than five years could be a stretch considering that not one of the major automakers is working on a pure EV to sell in the U.S. and there just isn't a strong enough infrastructure for delivering hydrogen to that many Californians at the moment. Nevertheless, 7,500 sold is easier to achieve than 25,000. These recent revisions indicate to some that CARB is slowly being neutered of its power as the feds work to regain control of setting the nation's energy policy. One set of standards for every state is what the automakers want, and for better or worse they may have it soon.

[Source: CARB, AutoblogGreen, Automotive News - sub. req'd]