• Jan 20th 2009 at 7:58PM
  • 16
The uncertain future of the alternative-powered and alternative-fueled vehicle is being decided by a confluence of old and new technology, big business and start-ups, marketing, vested interests, and public perception. It is no surprise, then, that when it comes to government regulation, we are bound to end up with some conflicting decisions. A company in California that converts regular hybrids to plug-in hybrids has found itself smack in the middle of one of those conflicts.
Last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) cut its mandated amount of electric vehicle sales in California by 70%. Some thought that might leave an exploitable opening for plug-in hybrids to gain serious market share. A number of start-ups have been established that install additional batteries into cars like the Toyota Prius, rendering them all electric below 34 mph, and allowing them to be recharged in 4 hours from a standard 3-prong outlet. The retrofit turns the 40+ mpg Prius into a 100+ mpg dromedary.

A new CARB proposal would require those start-ups to put their cars through smog tests that run about $25,000 per car, and to warranty their conversions for 10 years or 150,000 miles. The smog test issue has to do with a pollutant buildup issue in the catalytic converter and the gas vapor canister on cars that do a lot of cold starts and that might not use their internal combustion engines for more than three days. The warranty terms are the same as those mandated for any company that sells hybrids in California.

The start-ups say the pollutant issue has already been tested and solved by battery provider A123 systems, and it was approved in Massachusetts, a state that follows the same emissions standards as California. As for the warranty, the start-ups say they aren't altering the Prius, they are adding aftermarket batteries, so it doesn't make sense to force them to match the Prius' warranty. Besides that, the batteries they install are not expected to last ten years, so the warranty would be pointless anyway. The new regulations are expected to come into force next week anyway. Hat tip to reader Daniel

[Source: East Bay Express]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Atlas Shrugged!
      • 6 Years Ago
      The little man gets screwed once again by big brother....
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's california. They've been letting their hand spite their face for decades. Here is a prime example of why government is terrible at getting anything done and shouldn't be relied on for anything. A committee whose purpose is to reduce pollution, has single-handedly made it infinitely more difficult to make an extremely fuel efficient car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        quote from Jared: -
        "It's amazing they are making people Warentee parts for longer then most car companies warentee a BRAND NEW CAR!" -

        For one, it's warranty. Secondly, the warranty on emissions equipment is Federally mandated for all cars sold in the US, regardless of the warranty on the rest of the car. However, I thought the emissions warranty was 8yr/80K miles not 10yr/150K. http://www.epa.gov/oms/consumer/warr95fs.txt

        Considering that these changes may cause issues with the existing emissions equipment(catalytic converters and gas vapor canisters as the story mentioned), I think CARB has a valid argument.

        CARB regulates what aftermarket parts people can put on their cars(engine-wise) when it comes to performance. I don't really see why this situation should eb treated much differently.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Any politician with this much power should be voted in by the people, not appointed. I'd love to see any of these idiots have to run for office and have to report to the public for their actions
      • 6 Years Ago
      Way to put down small businesses just trying to do a helpful thing and better people's lives.

      I am glad I do not live in CA.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Smothering the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs, one well intentioned piece of paper at a time.

        • 6 Years Ago
        This is what happens when intrusive government is continually left unchecked by the people. Among the biggest problems with the nature of Government is that it judges policies and programs by their intentions, not their results.

        Bend over. CARB is foreplay.. The Fed's just getting started.
      • 6 Years Ago
      AHNOLD could save a huge chunk of money in the california deficit by dismantling CARB alltogether.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As I pointed out on ABG, this rule is not at all new.

      And to those who say this will kill small companies. small companies who make exhausts and turbo kits have been dealing with it for a decade already.

      The sky is not falling.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They should kill hybrids, and electric cars....

      • 6 Years Ago
      California as a whole should proceed with a low-CARB diet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I hate California. (and they are lucky I even capitalized it.)
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't hate Cali, but I understand what you mean.

        btw, GITS is awesome (referring to your avatar in case you don't know what I meant). Any news on new series or movies (maybe a 3rd gig)?
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