Wednesday, February 1, 2012

California’s Plug-In Car Push Has Huge Gas-Powered Loophole

California’s Plug-In Car Push Has Huge Gas-Powered Loophole:
Last week the California Air Resource Board voted to pass new regulations that would require automakers to put 1.4 million plug-in electric and hybrid cars on the roads by 2025. But as I pointed out in the intial post, automakers can get around making that many EV’s by simply “overcomplying” with a greenhouse-gas reduction target.

By overcomplying, CARB means that automakers who reduce their overall fleet emissions by 2-grams-per-mile more than the stated goals of a 34% reduction from the 2016 GHG emissions standard can sell about half as many zero or low-emissions vehicles. That could cut in half the 1.4 million clean car goal, which would be a boon to automakers who see the goal of 15% clean car sales as largely unachievable, short of a massive and permanent gas price spike.

So, not only is CARB now mandating what kinds of cars automakers should make, but they are also leaving a massive, easily-attainable loophole that will cut the legs right out under from the overly-ambitious goal.

Do two bone-headed moves make for good policy? Probably not. CARB hasn’t even left the door open for discussion of this move, and since 15 other states apply to CARB standards, this affects the whole nation, not just the Golden State.

Does anyone here really believe that by 2025, 15% of cars on the road will be electric or plug-in hybrids? I don’t. It is far more likely that Americans will transition from huge cars into smaller, more fuel-efficient offerings that don’t have a huge price premium like hybrids and EV’s. Nationwide, hybrids only account for less than 3% of all new car sales. California expects a five-fold increase in less than 15 years. I am all for electric cars and hybrids, but the last time California mandated that automakers build and sell electric cars, it ended poorly for all involved.

Instead of mandating the cars automakers should build, CARB should instead figure out how to make electric vehicle ownership easy and affordable while at the same time increase gas taxes on the cash-strapped state to help fix up some of their many crumbling roads and bridges. The market will figure things out from there.

Only CARB has the ability to simultaneously piss off the private industry and environmentalists in one fell swoop.

Ugh, California. That is all I have to say.

Source: Plug-In Cars | Image: Aaron Khor via Shutterstock

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