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USA: Who was for, who was against CARB’s ZEV mandate “over-compliance” rule

What impact will the “over-compliance” rule – some would say loophole – in the California Air Resources Board’s recent changes to the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate have? The short and obvious answer is that only time will tell, but one can make the case both that it’s a good thing and that it’s a bad thing. Odd, but true.

Before we get too far into this, a primer on the ZEV Mandate changes and what the over-compliance rule actually is is important. The basic idea is that CARB wants to reduce the amount of CO2 and other pollutants in the air that come from transportation. Zero-emission vehicles – whether they be plug-in or hydrogen powered – will do this, so CARB decided that at least 15.4 percent of all the cars sold by a major automaker in California needs to be either an EV, a plug-in hybrid or a hydrogen fuel cell vehcile by 2025. To go along with this new rule, some automakers asked for – and got – an over-compliance rule that will “allow manufacturers who systematically over comply with the proposed LEV III GHG fleet standard to offset a portion of their ZEV requirement in 2018 through 2021 model years only.”

Some argue that the over-compliance rule will lead to a smaller environmental benefit from ZEVs because, quite simply, there will be fewer ZEVs on the roads than there would be without the rule. This is true. It’s also true, as others will argue, that what matters most is lowering the amount of nasty pollutants and emissions from the air, so who cares if this happens because there is a true ZEV driving around or a much-improved (read: cleaner) gas-powered car that emits fewer greenhouse gases than today’s vehicles?

We didn’t want to try and answer that question. But we did think it made sense to try and capture the landscape of the recent batomtle over the rule, and so we asked some of the involved automakers and other concerned parties for their opinions. We put together a list of responses after the jump.



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