California is the nation's largest market for zero-emissions vehicles with over 100,000 of them estimated to be on the roads there. The state's goal is to keep that number growing every year. To that end, the California Air Resources Board is now tweaking its rules in a way that might not boost ZEVs but could mean more plug-in hybrids for the Golden State.

Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Volvo asked for an exemption to the state's zero-emissions vehicle mandate last year due to their relatively small development budgets compared to larger automakers. CARB denied their request but did craft a compromise, according to Automotive News. Rather than being required to offer a ZEV in the state, companies with an annual global revenue of less than $40 billion, like those in this group, may instead sell plug-in hybrids to earn ZEV credits.

The companies aren't completely off the hook, though. If these plug-in hybrids don't earn enough credits, the corporations must buy them on the market to make up the difference. Automakers with popular electric models like Nissan and Tesla have made a big business through this trading system by selling their surplus to rivals. Tesla alone pocketed $51 million in the first quarter from this part of its business, according to Automotive News.

The changes to the regulations also aren't set in stone, yet. CARB is meeting in 2016 and could adjust things further at that time.

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