Pledging to cooperate in making their states as hospitable as possible to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), governors from eight states yesterday agreed toward a goal of 3.3-million electric cars on their roads by 2025 with an eye toward 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets.
“[A]cccelerating the ZEV market is a critical strategy for achieving our goals to reduce transportation-related air pollution, including criteria air pollutants, mobile source air toxics and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth,” said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the eight-state coalition, “and … our states are committed to reducing air pollution, including the emission of GHGs and other air pollutants from the mobile source sector.”
Presently it’s estimated approximately two-thirds of all the oil consumed in America is used for transportation and 93 percent of the nation’s transportation depends on oil.
The states pushing to amend this reality with perhaps one of the strongest of numerous state-level initiatives promoting electric cars are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Sales data shows these eight states now constitute about 27 percent of the U.S. car market.
Several of these same signatory states in the 1990s also led the way toward tighter emission regulations on internal combustion cars, setting a precedent later followed by the federal government.
The federal government is now generally on board with ZEV goals, but less aggressively, notwithstanding the $7,500 federal tax credit for cars with a 16-kwh battery or larger – due to expire once 200,000 qualified plug-in vehicles have been sold by each automotive manufacturer – is the largest monetary incentive offered.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules however are able to be met with a mere 1-3 percent of ZEVs, as Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said in June this year.
Thus far around 140,000 plug-in vehicles have been sold by all manufacturers and the states’ goals dovetail with federal goals to domestically source energy which is considered a national security issue.
The signatory states are now pushing for battery electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles. The word “hybrid” or “plug-in hybrid” was not mentioned in their MOU, but these are in other quarters considered part-time ZEVs – particularly the plug-in variety which depending on the model, may operate electrically for approximately 11 to 38 miles.
Looking at the GHG aspect of vehicles that offer several critical benefits, the MOU says “motor vehicles are among the largest sources of GHGs and criteria air pollutants” and the governors agreed to form a ZEV Program Implementation Task Force with a six-month goal to establish an action plan in making electric car viable.
A key aspect to this, the MOU said is, for the coalition of states to “work together to establish a fueling infrastructure that will adequately support this number of vehicles.”
The states said also they will lead by example in acquiring ZEVs for their own fleets, and the MOU calls for accountability to see it through.
“On an annual basis, each Signatory State will report, within available capabilities, on the number of ZEVs registered in its jurisdiction, the number of electric/hydrogen fueling stations open to the public and available information regarding workplace fueling for ZEVs,” said the MOU.
The coalition further reinforced the setting of the stage for an EV friendly environment, as it said of its inter-agency commitment:
As appropriate in each State, the Signatory States will seek to support and facilitate the successful commercialization of ZEVs and efforts to maximize the electric miles driven by these vehicles through actions such as promoting electric vehicle readiness through consistent statewide building codes and standards for installing charging infrastructure, developing streamlined metering options for homes equipped with electric vehicle chargers, evaluating opportunities to reduce vehicle operating costs and increasing electric system efficiency through time-of-use electricity rates and net metering for electric vehicles, and strengthening the connection between ZEVs and renewable energy.
Further, the signatory states will work to share standards, includiong universal road signage, and plans for payment for charging access as simple as EZPass is now for roadway access.
Looking forward to technological innovation, the states agreed to share knowledge and promotional activities as well.
“We will collaborate with initiatives, including Clean Cities programs, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic States Transportation Climate Initiative and the West Coast Electric Highway that are already working to raise consumer awareness and demonstrate the viability and benefits of ZEVs,” said the MOU.
Fuel cell cars are also a big part of it, and several manufacturers are looking to mid decade as a beginning point to launch such vehicles.
“The Signatory States agree to pursue the assessment and development of potential deployment strategies and infrastructure requirements for the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.”
While the MOU is among the most forward reaching and deliberate, it is actually one of numerous legislative initiatives at the state level for hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, by July this year, 38 states have put in place high-occupancy vehicle lane exemptions as well as monetary incentives, vehicle inspections or emissions test exemptions, and parking incentives.
Financial perks include tax credits and registration fee reductions, and rebates or tax credits range from $1,000 in Maryland to $6,000 in Colorado.
The NCSL reported no less than 94 bills in 20 states are pending this year to encourage purchase and increased use of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles.