One of the big complaints that automakers had with America's fuel economy legislation a few years ago was the potential for California to lead the way in setting up its own, more-stringent rules that would lead to a "patchwork" of mpg laws. That never happened because the federal government came in and established a national standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025. A newer automotive legislation push – again led by California – is aiming for another big milestone by that same deadline.

This time, the issue is electric vehicles. California and seven other states (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) want to make regulating the new powertrains easier and thus get more people behind the wheel of a zero-emission car. They're even willing to set a target: 3.3 million EVs by 2025. It's unlikely that the US will see President Obama's target of one million EVs by 2015 become a reality, but can we ready 3.3 million over the next decade? It looks like the US is on track to only sell around 45,000 EVs this year, which, if we extend that out to 2025 and add in the last few years of sales, gets us only to around 600,000. Still, given the trends, finding another 2.7 million ZEV sales over 12 years sounds entirely reasonable to us.

Not everyone agrees. Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement that, "While 2025 is a long ways out, it's difficult to imagine electric and fuel cell vehicle sales hitting multi-millions in 10 years. The cost, functionality and infrastructure for these vehicles limits them to a relative sliver of the car-buying market." But the Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune, said in a separate statement that, "This announcement is possible because the president's strong new fuel economy standards have put electric vehicles in the fast lane." See the full statements (and more) below.

The issues that the coalition proposes to tackle include things that just make sense: EV-friendly building codes, more HOV lane access, promoting time-of-use electric utility rates and charging stations that all take the same type of payment (where have we heard that before?). The states are also committing to buying more ZEVs for governmental fleets. Another key thing to note is that the coalition is promoting all zero-emission vehicles, which is why hydrogen vehicles will be supported, should they become popular before 2025.
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Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book:

"The year 2025 seems a long way off, but in auto industry terms it is closer than most would imagine, since product plans typical run in five-year cycles. Though there has been an upsurge in electric vehicle sales recently, much of that has been prompted by previous government-mandated sales requirements, not by pure consumer demand. Unless a major battery breakthrough brings the cost and weight of automotive batteries down significantly, the new mandate will put additional cost burdens on every major manufacturer and will, in effect, require the buyers of conventional cars to subsidize the purchase of electric cars by their often-more-well-to-do neighbors. As evidence of that simply look at current Tesla Model S sales."

Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book:

"While, increasing market share for zero-emission vehicles will go a long way toward reducing pollution and improving air quality, convincing consumers to migrate en masse into the electric and hybrid vehicle segments will be a lot tougher than signing a mandate into law. As it stands today, zero-emission vehicles, such as electric and plug-in hybrids, remain out of reach for the typical budget conscious consumer, especially when compared to far more affordable compact and subcompact cars. Until battery costs come down, electric vehicle range increases, and infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles improves, we expect to see market share continue to grow at a snail's pace in the short term."

Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book:

"While 2025 is a long ways out, it's difficult to imagine electric and fuel cell vehicle sales hitting multi-millions in 10 years. The cost, functionality and infrastructure for these vehicles limits them to a relative sliver of the car-buying market. Technology will somewhat address these issues over the next decade, but not enough to make them mainstream models. In addition, advances in internal combustion technology will continue to improve the gasoline engine's fuel efficiency while reducing its emissions output, further negating the advantages of more expensive electric and fuel cell vehicles."

UCS Applauds Multi-State Effort to Develop More Robust Market for Electric Vehicles
Statement by David Reichmuth, Senior Engineer, UCS Clean Vehicles Program

SACRAMENTO (Oct. 24, 2014)-Eight states announced a joint plan today to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on America's roads by 2025.

The agreement - signed by the states of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont - will support zero-emission vehicle policies in those states by providing incentives for electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles modeled on the successful efforts by California.

Below is a statement by David Reichmuth, senior engineer with the Clean Vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

"Today's announcement shows commitment from these states to support a successful and growing market for electric vehicles, a key solution for tackling climate change and cutting our nation's projected oil use in half over the next 20 years.

"Reducing barriers to electric vehicle adoption through incentives and support for refueling infrastructure will provide more choices for consumers, lower fuel costs, and reduce pollution.

"Auto manufacturers, lawmakers, and citizens need to work together so that we can enjoy cleaner vehicles across the United States. Today's agreement, signed by eight states representing a quarter of all new vehicles sales, is an important step toward ensuring that the market for electric vehicles continues to expand."


The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. For more information, go to

Statement from Global Automakers' President and CEO Michael J. Stanton on Multi-State Effort to Promote Zero-Emission Vehicles

Washington, DC, October 24, 2013 – Global Automakers and its members remain committed to the success of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technology. We are pleased to see that California and the seven additional states have signed a cooperative agreement to develop an action plan to help build a robust national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars.

These advanced vehicles face significant barriers in even the most "friendly" market environments. Each state presents its own unique challenges such as consumer preferences, incentives, codes and standards, fueling/charging infrastructure, weather and topography. Getting the marketplace ready to support ZEVs is a shared responsibility and automakers are already making huge investments in developing the technologies. We look forward to continuing to work with California and the states to ensure success of the program.


October 24, 2013

Today the governors of eight states announced an ambitious partnership to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. Together, the states will develop fueling infrastructure and EV-ready building codes, purchase electric vehicles for state fleets, and expand incentives and public education programs to dramatically increase number of plug-in electric and fuel cell vehicles.

The eight states are: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

"The Sierra Club applauds these eight states for leading the way nationally with this ambitious plan to slash carbon pollution by putting 3.3 million new electric and zero-emission cars and trucks on American streets. When it comes to fighting climate disruption, EVs are where the rubber hits the road.

"This announcement is possible because the president's strong new fuel economy standards have put electric vehicles in the fast lane. Sales doubled in the first half of 2013, and more models are available now than ever before. Last month, more than 35,000 people attended events in 98 cities across the country during National Plug In Day.

"Today's announcement will ensure that all new cars won't just use less gas, many won't use gas at all.

"The facts speak for themselves, EVs are cleaner and more efficient than internal combustion engines and U.S. automakers have roared back to life by betting big on efficiency and the new innovative auto technologies that Americans demand."

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