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The Approaching Showdown over California’s Zero Emissions Mandate

It’s taking on the aspects of a showdown. California wants automakers to fall into line and agree to comply with its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) plan. But some carmakers don’t see that consumers are going to want them—they see the expensive cars they build at great expense building up on dealer lots.

And now California Air Resources Board head Mary Nichols is ramping up the confrontation. “Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot, or maybe I could say, tripping over your own halo,” she said about the automakers’ appeal at a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conference. “We don’t have time to delay the infusion of these technologies.”
More Than a Million Cars?

The state plan sees a smooth transition to 1.4 million battery electric and plug-in hybrids on state roads by 2025. Some 500,000 of them would be either battery cars or fuel-cell vehicles. It’s hoped that in 12 years, one in seven cars sold, 15.4 percent, will use plugs.

There’s some evidence to justify the automakers’ position, solely based on battery car sales so far. Yes, California has by far the most robust network for public charging and healthy EV sales. Currently, one in 40 sales there are plug ins. But the state mandate applies to car companies, not to consumers, and there would have to be a massive change in attitude to get to one in seven sales.


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