CA To Require Zero-Emission Vehicles On Top Of Gas-Mileage Rules

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Light-duty vehicle type scenario, now-2050 (California Air Resources Board)

Light-duty vehicle type scenario, now-2050 (California Air Resources Board)

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The NHTSA and EPA are closing in on their final rules for 2017-2025 corporate average fuel economy regulations, but there's a wild card in the pack.

California, which has the authority to set its own emissions laws, is going along with the proposed gas-mileage levels, which will take 2025 model-year vehicles to an average of 54.5 mpg (which translates to window stickers in the low 40s).

But in mid-November, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced that it would also require automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles (known as ZEVs) in the state, on top of the national fuel economy rules.

The regulations were officially proposed yesterday, and the board will decide whether to adopt them in late January.

CARB's Advanced Clean Cars program for 2015 through 2025 (full details here) requires increasing numbers of cars that operate on grid electricity either part of the time (plug-in hybrids) or entirely (battery electric or fuel-cell vehicles).

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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It will no longer count cars powered by alternate fuels, including natural gas, under the zero-emission vehicle category. Today's natural-gas vehicles, including the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, are considered ZEVs and qualify for single-occupancy use of freeway HOV lanes, among other incentives.

By 2025, the rules will require that one in seven cars sold in California (15.4 percent) be either a fully zero-emission or a plug-in hybrid vehicle. In that year, CARB expects to have 1.4 million such vehicles on California roads.

The effect, it says, will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 million tons per year, equivalent to taking 8 million vehicles off the state's roads. And it will save $5 billion in running costs for drivers, since a mile driven on grid power costs just one-fifth to one-third what the same mile costs on gasoline today.

fcx clarity fuelcell motorauthority 002

fcx clarity fuelcell motorauthority 002

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By 2040, the board expects the vast majority of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission. With standard fleet turnover, that means that by 2050, more than seven of every eight cars on the road in California are projected to be driven by electric motors powered either from batteries or fuel cells.

CARB has long been known to harbor a special fondness for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, and fuel-cell proponents greeted the new regulations with approval, noting that the board wants "major refiners/importers of gasoline" to be responsible for providing hydrogen fueling stations to the state's drivers.

Other clean-car advocates, including the Union of Concern Scientists, voiced their approval of the new regulations as well, though noting that still further reductions would be needed to get California's greenhouse-gas emissions down to where scientists suggest they should be by 2050.


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Comments (10)
  1. i dont think the rules will make much difference, since i think that evs will take over much sooner than experts do.

  2. "a mile driven on grid power costs just one-fifth to one-third what the same mile costs on gasoline today." Doubtful.

    EPA says
    $987/year 2012 Toyota Prius
    $612/year 2012 Nissan Leaf.
    So EV fuel is cheaper, but not much. And that assumes $0.12/KWH that is well below the rate charged to California residents except under a few special deals. So expect fueling an EV to be on par with a gasoline vehicle.

    Still, EVs are potentially much cleaner and quieter so thumbs up to CARB.

  3. john,

    gasoline is a limited natural resource.

    we have only begun to tap the possibilities of evs.

    we will eventually have that ball in the sky producing all of our electricity.

    we are only at a beginning with battery technology, etc. etc.

    there simply is no long-term advantages to oil, and a ton of disadvantages.

  4. Preaching to the choir my friend. Already have PV solar panels on my house. I was only complaining about the 3-5x economic claim.

  5. California gas prices are also higher than average (about 10%), while for electricity, in many cases, TOU rates for low-emission vehicles are available, which go down to about $0.06 off-peak, although not everyone can use them to their advantage (currently).

    So we might as well use the national average numbers for both gas and electricity.

    Using 300 Wh/mile, I get 17,000 miles for $612. That's almost 50% more than the average per year, AFAIK, but let's use that. (Even though the real cost might be around $450.)

    Since the 2012 Prius has a combined mileage of 50mpg, it will need 340 gallons for 17,000 miles.

    To get at $987, the gas price would need to be $2.90 . Is it?

    Whereas at $4.00 per gallon, you'll have costs of about $1,200 = 2x.

  6. Well, even using your 2X number, you have also shown the author's 3-5X claim to be off-the-mark.

  7. BTW, the average milage today is about 20 mpg, which the article was probably referring to (not the 50 mpg of the Prius which is not typical even for hybrids).

    Using the above numbers, one-third costs for EVs, compared to average ICEs, is achieved at $2.16 per gallon, one-fifth at $3.60 per gallon.

  8. Thanks to all for trying to retrofit my math. Here's the rough-and-ready calculation I use to demonstrate.

    GASOLINE: The U.S. average fleet is now roughly *25 mpg*. Assume gasoline at $4/gallon, and you get $16 per 100 miles.

    ELECTRICITY: The U.S. average cost/kWh is roughly 12 cents. Assume the average plug-in does 4 miles per usable kWh of pack, and you get $3 per 100 miles.

    Season to taste, adjust accordingly, and your mileage may vary. Obviously changes in gas prices (slightly lower at the moment), power prices (varies from 3 to 25 cents per kWh), and assumptions will change the calculations.

  9. I true feast of bad assumptions all favoring the EV. Let me just pick on one.

    4 miles/KWH. would mean 25KWH/100 miles (and don't even get me started on the MPG is stupid author using miles/KWH rather than KWH/mile). Both the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt get an EPA rating of about 36 KWH/100 miles.

    That is 2.7 miles/KWH via EPA rating. Your number is 45% more optimistic than EPA.

  10. There are more comments in this thread
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