California Cuts Electric Car Goal…Again

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) agreed today to significantly cut the number of electric vehicles that car manufacturers are required to sell. The new plan allows carmakers to produce as few as 7,500 zero-emission vehicles over the next four years, down from the previous, more ambitious target of 25,000. More than 50,000 so-called advanced technology partial ZEVs, including plug-in hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles, would make up for the cutback in the pure ZEV requirement, the board decided.

Critics suspect that even that target number will be slashed at some point down the road. “That’s a body blow to the ZEV program,” said Zan Dubin Scott of Plug In America, an EV advocacy group.

CARB board member Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC-Davis, told Wired magazine that it might be time to scrap the program altogether. “I’m going to make a resolution at some point that we overhaul this program completely,” he said. “Start from scratch.”

The original goal of California’s zero-emission mandate, which was enacted in 1990, was to require 10 percent of the nearly 1 million new vehicle sales in the state to be all-electric by 2003. For California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent of 1990 level by 2050, it must have nearly 400,000 zero emission vehicles on the road by 2020, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Air Resources Board insists that it is committed to zero-emission electric vehicles, but believes that lithium ion hybrids and plug-in hybrids are currently more viable based on the technology available to automakers. The renewed debate comes just as Tesla begins production on its electric roadster, Chevy readies the Volt for 2010, and Mitsubishi tests the iMiEV in Japan with intentions for a U.S. debut next year. Other carmakers, including Nissan and Subaru, also have EV projects in development.


  • Anonymous

    Yet another monument to ignorance. Mandating technological breakthroughs, like energy storage devices that make BEV viable was not too bright in 1990. But to still be riding that dead horse, rather than encouraging PHEV’s with an AER greater than 25 miles, is incredibly dim. These cars will reduce green house gas emissions from vehicles by more than 50%, because the average mileage will go from around 23 MPG, to over 46 MPG without considering the reduction from the plug coming from wind, and nuclear and hydro. They are expected to hit the market in 2012 and I expect sales to be brisk by 2015.

  • steved28

    I agree with anonymous, it’s a mute point. Economics will be the only true driver of any technology. Let’s just hope the pump prices continue to rise.

    This isn’t rocket science, if a million cars can double their mileage, we don’t need 25,000 EV’s mandated. Let’s focus on the PHEV, when people get a taste for this, they’ll never buy an ICE only vehicle again.

  • rdwye563

    I have to agree as well. Only true econimics and creating competion against gas powered vehicles will bring about a change in consumer habits.

    California and the rest of country offer increased incentives to consumers who purchase a hybrid vehicle that can produc a 40 + MPG rating. Plus, encourage the manufacturing of electirc vehciles. Lastly states need to spearhead the development of ALT fuel infrustruture. We’ll never get away from gas if we can’t buy anything else.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Unfortunately the same ICE manufacturers that refuse to make BEVs also refuses to make PHEVs. The incumbent automobile industry is terrified of anything that does not require an Internal Combustion Engine and a Transmission (ie lots of moving parts) in order to make it go.
    Unfortunately, its not a fair market either. The startup costs to get past all the government regulations necessary to get a new automobile onto the market are almost unfathomable. As far as I know no one has ever gotten a new automobile NHTSA approved without starting with a prior design.

  • Armand

    Forces at the helm will not let the ICE engine die…PERIOD. People are making hand over fist from war, oil, etc….are you folks that naive to think populous economics will take precedence to what the real powers at be want? We do what they say…not the other way around.

  • Charles Pruett

    Sadly, I think ex-EV1 driver and Noz are right on this one. There simply is TOO much $$$$ for those greedy bas*%&’s to let it go. I also am convince auto maker giants are in cahoots with the Arabs. Well…we all KNOW that’s the case.

  • ophir

    Unbelievable – you guys ditch the EV again.

    Hopefully my government – over here in Israel – will stay commited to the electric car via sopporting the “Better Place” project, which basically means giving significant tax breaks for ev`s – 10% instead of the standart ICE 89% purchase tax.

    But then again, maybe promoting PHEV`s is the better strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector in the short term.

  • Anonymous

    Now all we need is for GM to postpone/cancel the Volt and the world will make sense once again…

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Further looks at what CARB actually did:
    They apparently added a provision to encourage PHEVs. This sounds good from the outside. The dirty little catch, however, was that they specifically allowed “blended” PHEVs. “Blended” PHEVs must have their gasoline engines running in order to operate at freeway speeds. This means that, while better MPG, the auto manufacturers can get around the new rules without making a single vehicle that can operate without gasoline.
    Agaiin: CARB is working to ensure that the electric car remains dead.
    At least we don’t have to hear Lutz keep lying to us about how he loves plug-in vehicles any more. He’s won the battle in Sacramento again so he’s got another half decade of business as usual.

  • jammer

    There are a few ways that some EV manufacturers are getting around the issue of a legal highway car. They are using three wheels and classifying the cars as motorcycles. This is a temporary move to get the product out into the market. Although there will be many wary consumers who will not buy a 3 wheel vehicle, it will be popular enough to start the ball rolling. Check out all of the connections and ideas that ZAP http://www.zapworld.com has with their electric vehicles.Then hopefully, our new administration will support new law changes regarding electric vehicles. ZAP who makes a fairly impractical “city car” has been on backorder for a while with all of their current vehicles in production, this includes running their new (larger) manufacturing facility to produce these cars.

  • Brooke

    Yet again this IS a HOT CAR! And As for you Anonymous, the world doesn’t make sense and it NEVER will. OK!? :) Cars aren’t going to change everthing yah know!

  • Chad

    California Air Resource Board,
    Don’t you all know that the nation looks to california and its strict emissions standards to set the pace? If you all keep on catering to major auto makers; alternative fuel, electric only, hydraulic hybrid, and plug in hybrids will continue to creep along, if they creep at all. Be firm! Be strong! The cars sold in california do make it to other states. They do have an affect. It seems that California Air Resource Board is like a timid parent always letting the “teenage” auto makers get away with whatever they want. Its time CARB put their foot down and started doing their jobs.

  • Sedate Me

    “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – John F. Kennedy Sept 12th 1962

    In May of 1961, despite woefully lacking the technology and any economic incentive to do it, Kennedy ordered a moon landing within 10 years. On July 20th 1969, an American walked on the moon. Yet many folks claim, “You can’t mandate technology. Nope. Never. Can’t be done. It’s a monument to ignorance,” These folks must believe that technology falls like manna from heaven to be collected by the Corporation Fairy and sold to good little boys and girls who believe. I guess they don’t understand technology only gets researched, developed and implemented upon the order of human beings, be they in business or government. If nobody gives the order, the technology never sees the light of day, no matter how easy it would be to make it happen or how important it is to a society. Electric cars are a great example.

    Maybe these naysayers think mandating a trip to the moon is easier than mandating an electric powered trip to the office. We’re led to believe that getting a vehicle to run on electricity is an incredibly complex activity that can’t be hurried, even though the first electric vehicle was created in the 1830′s and most cars on the road 100 years ago were electric. In fact, as part of the Apollo Program, NASA had to build an electric car (aka Lunar Rover) It got 20km (12.5 miles) per charge and handled some serious off-road driving. Like a perfect metaphor, it is currently sitting on the moon, completely forgotten, but ready, willing and able to be used again.

    Unlike Kennedy, we live in a visionless world where we let big corporations do as they please. We are supposed to sit quietly and let them build electric cars if and when they feel like it, no matter how much it’s in the public interest to light a fire under their asses. Wake up people! This isn’t rocket science. The reason the technology didn’t advance much between 1930 and 1989 is because nobody in Detroit gave the order to build electric cars. It wasn’t because they couldn’t. It was because THEY DIDN’T WANT TO. The EV1 proved how fast they could build a plausible electric car, even after 60 years of neglect. The EV1 also proved how committed they were to NOT build electric cars. GM was so fanatical about destroying every single EV1, it resembled genocide. They wanted to destroy all evidence of their existence, so that nobody would ever think such a thing was possible.

    How do you get them to build something they don’t want to? You can write letters that politely ask them to build cars the majority of people alive in 1990 didn’t know were even possible. You could hope an auto-executive gets a midnight visit from an angel carrying God’s hand drawn plans for the ultimate eco-car and he decides to use his subordinate’s idea. Or, you could pressure those fat, lazy, government bastards to earn their keep and mandate more efficient, less polluting, vehicles. Thanks to the 1990 CARB mandate, a government actually did its job for a change.

    While I think the CARB mandate’s sales numbers were too high for the given time-line, the mandate generated a quick response and had long lasting effects. Plausible electric cars were on the road just a few years later The related technologies advanced further since the mandate than the previous 50 years combined and, despite CARB’s back peddling, the momentum has continued. No matter how hard GM crushed the EV1, the genie managed to escape the bottle. The American automakers couldn’t bury the technology fast enough, but the Japanese saw enough value in it to create Hybrids, the undeniable proof of what happened and what could be. You have to be a complete moron not to see that the Volt would never have existed without the CARB mandate. I still doubt it will make it to the showroom. If the pressure ever fades, the Volt will be gone like a bolt of lightning. I hope I’m wrong, but it started out as another Hydrogen car, an empty promise designed to deflect criticism without actually doing anything.

    If not for the 1990 mandate, battery technology would still be stuck in the 80′s and there would be no Hybrids. No matter how high gas went up, the biggest response you’d get from Detroit would be a modern version of the K-car and they’d disappear once the Saudi’s lowered the price of oil, just like last time. Detroit would go right back to building behemoths. Wasteful macho-mobiles are all they ever want to make because they’re a much easier sell. There are far more morons willing to bankrupt themselves by buying overpriced monsters so they can feel “manly” driving to and from their office cubicle than there are sensible people who want practical and affordable transportation. You just can’t overcharge for practical transportation the way you can for testosterone on wheels.

    As for the economics, they’ve actually worked against electrifying cars. No matter how many Tesla Motors appear, they’ll never have a decent economy of scale. No matter how many people want one, they’ll never offer a car most people could afford. Only when electric cars are mass produced will the costs come down enough for most people to afford them, but that won’t happen until major manufacturers build them. In 1990, no auto-executive in his right mind would voluntarily spend hundreds of millions developing and marketing a product none of its customers could fathom and none of its competitors wanted to build. In 1990, most auto executives were about to re-structure their business models around the sale of gas guzzling monsters. The only reason they built small cars in the 90′s was because of CAFE regulations.

    Even if they wanted to, no major company would build them until they became affordable to build, which would only happen after major companies built them. It’s a classic “Catch 22″. Without outside “interference” such a logjam would never be broken. However, once that logjam breaks, every company will rush to keep up with the competition and do what was “impossible” just a few years earlier. As the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The CARB mandate provided the necessity.

    Here’s the economics that really matter. Americans are pouring what little money they have left into gas tanks. Much of that money is going to ungrateful sheiks, most of whom want to own America and the rest want it destroyed. Untold billions are spent on healthcare and environmental cleanups to repair the damage caused by keeping this wasteful transportation practice going and America spends obscene amounts of money on the military-industrial-complex to ensure the oil flows in its direction, so that the rich can keep getting richer while everyone else gets poorer.

    If the government can’t mandate something so beneficial to the environment, national security, the health of it’s citizens and their pocketbooks, then why even have a government? I’m tired of all this surrender-monkey crap! “Oh, we can’t do anything. We just have to take what they give us.” Bull! This is our show! They are our bitches, not the other way around! It’s time we started demanding better from governments and corporations. If they can’t preform, they need to go.

    While imperfect, the government mandated approach was the only way electric vehicles were going get this far. To think otherwise, you must be living on the moon, right next to an electric vehicle that was the result of a government mandated technological advancement.

  • Hector Viramontes

    The truth about the electric car is now put to the test… its been with us since 1930s or so. Even if it was with us for only 20 years, we should make all auto makers mandatorily make them safe,efficient and affordable and available in all auto dealer showrooms TODAY. After the twin towers fell and it was discovered that it was NOT 19 Mexicans, but 19 Saudi Arabians, what did the elected officials do ? they flew the Arab royals that were here in the United States first class back to Saudi Arabia and put the Mexicans on the on the bus back to Mexico. We have given up 5,500 american GIs and 3000 plus American civilians to keep the electric car back in the 30s and very unaffordable to the average AMERICAN consumer/taxpayer.

    CARB is so out of touch with reality like most taxpayers and consumers on life after 9/11. They want to beleve its ALL a bad dream and never happend, and OPEC is a brand of motor oil like Quaker State or Penzoil. The gasoline engine still and will serve its purpose, but really, even President Bush said, the United States is addicted to oil…even at the REALITY that its purchased from the same government and theocracy that inspired and financed the 19 Saudi Arabians to do what they did on 9/11.

    I know those Mexicans on the bus were here illegally, but at least the majority of them came here to work and partake in the American Dream and not to knock it down to ground.