Some automakers are arguing that California Air Resource Board (CARB) officials need to rewrite regulations to tone down the state's zero-emissions vehicle requirements. Since May, automakers and CARB have privately debated whether California's pending zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) regulations should be thrown out in favor of the U.S.' corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Now, as the CAFE debate heats up, CARB is under intense pressure to modify its ZEV requirements.
Officially, CARB's proposed ZEV regulations say that one percent of all vehicles sold in the state in 2012 must be alternative technology automobiles. By 2018, that number goes to 5.5 percent. In 2025, the percentage shoots up to 14. Come 2050, all vehicles must be of the alternative technology type. That's a big goal, but we have 39 years to make it happen.
CARB's ZEV proposal, if adopted in mid-2012, would require automakers to meet the aforementioned percentages to avoid paying steep fines. Nine other states currently enforce standards based on CARB's guidelines. Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, argues against the ZEV proposal using rhetoric that reminds us of previous calls for California to just relax when it comes to promoting fuel-efficient vehicles:
Meanwhile, Tom Cackette, CARB's chief deputy executive officer, told Automotive News (sub. req.) that:A single national program allows us all to devote our maximum efforts on focusing on carbon dioxide reductions rather than devoting efforts to the extra challenges of meeting a patchwork of state regulations.
Under the Clean Air Act, states can choose whether to adhere to U.S. or California emissions standards. Of course, this complicates the issue, with automakers seeking a single, national regulation for 2017 to 2025 (and beyond). Adding to the drama, the Obama administration says that it will issue proposed CAFE standards by the end of September. That just so happens to be about the same time that CARB is expected to formally announce new ZEV requirement proopsals .We need to get on a path where advanced technology vehicles dominate. We have no intention of backing away from ZEV.