Given how a number of states have been following California’s lead in recent years, including the likes of Maryland, New Jersey and New York, there’s a distinct possibility we could see the expansion of zealous zero emissions requirements.
Recently, the California Air Resources Board approved a measure that requires some 15.4 percent of all vehicles sold in the Golden State to be Zero emissions compliant by 2025 (in other words be plug-in hybrids, pure EVs or fuel-cell machines).
California’s zero emissions mandate was first introduced in 1990, though in recent years, the standards have been significantly tightened. For automakers, the issue presents a bit of a dilema, especially if other states choose to follow California’s ruling.
As it stands, buyers haven’t exactly warmed up to the idea of plug-in hybrids or pure EVs, despite the media hype they generate. Currently, sales represent just 0.1 percent of the entire US vehicle market.
Consequently, there are concerns within the auto industry that given the sluggish demand, sales of zero emissions vehicles won’t grow fast enough to meet the mandated targets, meaning that automakers could risk facing hefty fines. Bailey Wood, director of legislative affairs for the National Automobile Dealer’s Association, believes the requirements could result in a very tough market for dealers to do business, because it would require stocking more models that aren’t popular with buyers. “Already, dealers have to accept less popular vehicles to get the ones they want,” he stated. “With the [zero-emission vehicle] mandate, it will be even worse.”
That said, David Clegern, speaking on behalf of CARB, says that the new ZEV regulations were conceived with flexibility in mind, meaning that should an automaker struggle to hit the required sales targets for such vehicles in one state, it has the option of shipping them to another without incurring penalties. In addition, those manufacturers that exceed federal rules can earn credits which they can apply to state regulations, with sales of gasoline-electric hybrids being eligible for such credits, at least initially.
However, with sales of even gas-electric hybrids currently remaining flat (at around 3 percent of all US vehicle demand) and fuel cell cars and trucks still showing little sign of becoming available within the next few years, meeting these tough ZEV targets is going to prove challenging at best.
[Source: Automotive News]