With electricity not always generated through renewable methods, it can be hard to claim that an EV is truly zero-emissions. It's generally accepted that you aren't pumping any gasses out the back as you drive along, though. Well, the car shouldn't be anyway...

Despite this, electric vehicle manufacturers are still required to comply with the "Clean Air Act" by supplying the EPA with a "Certificate of Conformity" for their cars. Tesla apparently ignored the memo, and now they're staring down the barrel of a $275,000 fine for non-compliance.

Oddly, the company complied in 2008 but their Securities and Exchange Commission 10-Q filing for the second quarter of 2009 shows that Tesla Motors and the EPA "entered into an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Audit Policy Determination in which we agreed to pay a civil administrative penalty in the sum of $275,000".

Rules are rules, but we can't help feeling like despite Tesla's misdemeanor being easily avoidable, this particular rule is rather ridiculous. It represents bureaucracy of the worst kind, requiring paperwork and expense when the company's sole vehicle should be exempt right from the start.

The situation also makes us wonder though why Tesla Motors chose not to comply with the regulations in the first place, since they were clearly aware of their existence. Surely that $275,000 would have been better spent on developing the 2012 Tesla Model S we're eagerly waiting for, or even lobbying the EPA for exemption from the regulations. This would be of benefit to Tesla and to any other manufacturer intending to supply an electric vehicle.

[Tesla Motors via AutoBlogGreen]