CARB's new ZEV mandate revision could add 1.4m more advanced green cars, while creating a big loophole

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is holding meetings that could put the hammer down on getting more zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) on the road – or so it seems at first glance.

CARB, which always looks far down the road, is discussing how it will change the ZEV program that concerns the model year 2018 vehicles and beyond. The proposal (PDF, but watch out: it's 670 pages that are not searchable!) could force automakers to add half a million pure electric or fuel cell vehicles and another 900,000 plug-in hybrids by 2025, writes the New York Times. Overall, CARB's proposal would increase the market segment of advanced clean cars from four percent in 2025 to up to 15 percent. CARB is also asking for more hydrogen stations to be built.

That may all sound good, but there's another side to the story, one that's a big loophole. Plug In America is calling on its members to oppose a portion of the proposal that could actually reduce the number of ZEVs on the roads in the future. Comparatively, anyway. In a letter to the DOE and EPA, CARB Chair Mary Nichols wrote:

California commits to propose that its revised ZEV program for the 2018-2021 MYs include a provision providing that over-compliance with the federal GHG standards in the prior model year may be used to reduce in part a manufacturer's ZEV obligation in the next model year.

The details are that, for every two grams per mile of GHG overcompliance, an automaker could "cut the number of pure electric-drive vehicles [it has to offer] by as much as 50% over the 2018 to 2021," writes Plug In America, which also calls it a "sweetheart deal" and "a bad deal for California and for the United States." PIA writes that Honda, Hyundai and Toyota lobbied for this overcompliance language. We'll keep following this one.

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