Calif. orders stepped-up sales of nonpolluting vehicles
LOS ANGELES -- California regulators have approved a rule requiring 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold in the state to be electric, fuel-cell or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2025.
The rule -- supported by major automakers -- is part of a broader package of regulations called the Advanced Clean Car program designed to cut vehicle greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions.
The new standards could mean 1.4 million electric, fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles on California roads by 2025.
The measure also supports development of an infrastructure for hydrogen fueling stations across California, the nation's largest car and light-truck market.
General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group, Nissan Motor Co. and other automakers -- usually at odds with California regulators -- submitted testimony in support of the new standards.
The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to approve the program during a two-day meeting that ended Friday, Jan. 27.
"That's actually a relatively modest goal, but that's all that we're mandating," Mary Nichols, CARB chairwoman, said last week.
"We expect to go beyond that with other incentives we are hoping to be able to offer in terms of direct incentives to people who buy these cars, [such as] rebates and credits," Nichols said.
Nichols applauded the auto industry's cooperation as the rules were being developed.
"Probably the most heartening aspect of this whole rulemaking was the level of cooperation that we received from the industry," she said.
But the California New Car Dealers Association and other industry groups representing businesses that sell cars said the board overestimated consumer demand for electric vehicles and other so-called zero-emission vehicles.
Some groups estimate that the average price of a car or light truck would rise $3,200 because of the technological changes.
Other states may follow
The plan, which would reduce smog-forming emissions 75 percent by 2025, and carbon dioxide emissions from passenger vehicles 34 percent between 2015 and 2025, align with federal emissions regulations proposed by President Obama.
The revised mandate that electric, fuel-cell or plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold in California by 2025 represents a toughening of state's zero-emission vehicle mandate that has been on the books since 1990.
Under the update, starting in 2018, automakers accounting for about 97 percent of new light-vehicle sales in California will be required to sell plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles in greater volumes every year to reach the 15.4 percent target by 2025.
The mandate approved Friday would subject BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Mazda to the same zero-emission vehicle sales requirements as Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and Nissan starting in 2018. Currently, BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Mazda are subjected to less-stringent ZEV requirements.
But the board said at its meeting that it may reconsider that decision before the rule takes effect in 2018.
Ten other states plan to adopt California's advanced vehicle rules if they are implemented, said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. That would at least double the impact of California's program to more than 3 million advanced vehicles sold nationwide, he said.
Bloomberg and Christina Rogers contributed to this report
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