California, CARB, Votes On 15% Clean Car Mandate By 2025

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California has long been at the forefront of developing rules to reduce automotive pollution levels, but a vote held yesterday could prove to be a landmark for green cars.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been voting on regulations requiring 15 percent of new cars sold in the state by 2025 produce either zero, or close to zero emissions, says Mercury News.

That means a higher proportion of hydrogen fuel cell, battery electric, plug-in hybrid and regular hybrid vehicles on the road by 2025.

As many as 1.4 million of these would be zero-emission vehicles, i.e. hydrogen and battery electric vehicles - up from the 10,000 or so in the state today. That would make them as commonplace by 2020 as regular hybrids are today.

The new regulations would come into force from 2018 to reach the 15 percent target by 2025.

Regular gasoline and diesel vehicles still wouldn't be off the hook, as these would be required to produce 75 percent lower smog-forming emissions, and 50 percent lower greenhouse gases. That will ensure even regular vehicles become significantly cleaner than they are today.

The new rules aren't without their critics. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who grilled GM CEO Dan Akerson on Wednesday over the Chevy Volt battery fires, has launched an investigation into the new rules. He believes the state is setting national fuel economy standards, a claim denied by Mary Nichols, chief of CARB.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 84 percent of Californians favor tighter gas mileage rules, and several other states are considering copying California's proposed rules.

So could these numbers be achieved? According to Simon Mui, a batteries scientist working with the Natural Resources Defense Council, there's no reason why not.

"We believe it's a pretty reasonable target... Every major automaker and numerous startups are offering some type of plug-in hybrid or pure-electric vehicle already." Even those that don't already have some on the horizon, he explains.

We'll be sure to bring you more news on the voting when we hear it.

Until then, what do you think of the proposed rules? Do you think they're achievable? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Comments (12)
  1. Define "close to zero." I'll bet CARB hasn't.
    75 percent and 50 percent lower than what? Todays allowed emissions? Or the allowed emissions when the reg takes effect in 2018?
    What happens at the end of the year if the 15% sales target isn't reached? Auto dealers get penalized? The last few folks to buy a new car can't get what they want, they have to buy an EV because that's all the dealer is allowed to sell to make his target?

    Even nut-job Californians won't be able to support this. Then again, at the rate businesses are leaving CA, people will eventually do the same, and new car sales there are going to plummet as a result... Nah, still not achievable.

  2. Automakers will adjust ZEV vehicle prices downwards, and ICE vehicle prices upwards, until 15% is achieved. At some price point, ZEVs will sell and that is success.

  3. Comment disabled by moderators.

  4. But it was so great to be able to hear what you had to say.

  5. This is great news. The Mercury News article has a lot more detail and there is reason to think that the new regulations will stick this time:

    As part of the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcy bail-out agreement, the automakers agreed not to fight the new legislation.

    Oh, and also in the article, 84% of us California "nut-jobs" favor legislation requiring automakers to improve gas mileage. So I guess most Californians are actually in favor of this change.

  6. Hydrogen FC will fail, but EV and EREV will succeed. How will they require 15% sales, though? Fleet sales? I think they will need to have price-parity of ICE and EVs before they will make this number. Eventually, if EVs (like Leaf) drop below prices of ICE cars, the 15% will definitely be surpassed for sedans. But there is still huge demand for Pickup Trucks and large luxury cars in the market.

  7. I can only hope that Califonia is allowed to set the stanard.
    Issa, is a thorn in our side.I assume it has something to do with his association with the oil industry.

  8. Zero-Emission? Almost half of the electricity used in plug-in electric vehicles is generated in coal-burning power plants. What comes to CO2 emissions, coal is much worse fuel than gasoline.

  9. @Matti Kangas: Yes, but the 2007 EPRI-NRDC study conclusively showed that in the U.S., a mile driven electrically even on the dirtiest state grid (ND or WV) has a lower wells-to-wheels carbon profile than a mile driven in a 25-mpg gasoline car. Once you get to 50 mpg (the 2012 Prius, the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in car sold this year), then the dirtiest grids are slightly more carbon-intensive ... but in CA, you need to get to 100 mpg or so before the gasoline car is as low-polluting as the plug-in car.

  10. Building on John's comments, CA basically outlawed power generation from coal and as a result less than 1% of their electricity comes from coal.

    So, a two part approach in CA.
    1) outlaw coal
    2) require EVs
    Well done CA.

  11. Just remember: Price clears all markets.

    The United States uses 20M bbl/day. Get that. That's 1B bbl every 50 days. While people ignorant of the facts chant 'drill baby drill,' the facts are cold and ominous. Domestic production peaked in 1970 at 10.9M bbl/day. The easy stuff is gone.

    Given that we spend over $725B per year on our military, does anyone seriously doubt that we subsidize oil? What would our cars look like if the all-in costs were paid at the pump? Just look at them in Europe. $8-$12/gallon changes their shape.

    Eventually, we're going to understand that there's no plausible path to enable us to keep running what we've been running the way we've been running it. Price will eventually teach us that.

  12. Let's just hope the alternatives are not even higher priced.

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