California Air Resources Board set to weaken ZEV Mandate tomorrow

One day remains before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) votes on the latest proposed revision (read weakening) of the Zero Emission Vehicle Program, and the press is picking up the story, with headlines trumpeting Will California Kill the Electric Car Again? (here, here and here) CARB opted to promote hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles (FCV) over battery electric cars when it revised the program in 2003, and the automakers destroyed most of the electric cars that had been deployed.

A schedule was set for the manufacture of FCVs, rising to 25,000 by 2015, but the technology remains far from commercialization and automakers have been lobbying to lower the numbers. Although some major manufacturers, most prominently GM with its Chevy Volt, have announced intentions to begin commercial production of electric drive cars, all have signed on to a letter to CARB decrying the CARB staff proposal to reduce by 90 percent the number of required ZEVs as still too onerous. Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and a host of environmental organizations along with Tesla Motors and former CIA Director James Woolsey held a press conference this morning in front of CARB, and will be testifying at tomorrow's hearing to press the case for a higher numbers of ZEVs. Consumers who want electric options available sooner rather than later can make their voice hear via links to CARB and Governor Schwarzengger here. (Full disclosure: I am on the Board of Plug In America.)

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