CAFE is enough; ZEV rules defy logic, buyer choice
California and the 10 states that typically follow its tailpipe emissions and fuel economy policies must rethink the mandates that would require automakers to deliver a specified number of electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
As part of the state's Advanced Clean Car program, the California Air Resources Board requires that by 2025 15.4 percent of all new cars sold in the state must be so-called zero-emission vehicles.
By requiring a certain number of ZEV sales, the mandate fails to take into account that a relatively minuscule number of consumers seem interested in buying pricey EVs, plug-ins and fuel cells -- even with incentives and hefty tax credits.
The plan also violates the spirit and intent of the national fuel economy standards for the 2017-25 model years, which the Obama administration hammered out in collaboration with automakers, environmentalists and California regulators.
The nagging question of how to meet the demands of the CARB ZEV mandate hangs over the industry.
During last week's media days at the Los Angeles Auto Show the topic of electrified vehicles was front and center, as it has been for umpteen straight auto shows. As usual, there was plenty of optimism from automakers touting the development of more pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Yet Toyota says it is dialing back on the development of pure electrics and plug-in hybrids in favor of other technologies, including fuel cells and the development of more gasoline-electric hybrids.
For our market economy, consumers are the ultimate judges. For the market to function efficiently, manufacturers must be free to meet reasonable standards using any technology they choose -- whether to justify capital investment, take advantage of r&d, reduce costs, play a hunch or satisfy their customers.
It is inefficient to dictate technology and dead wrong for government to pick winners and losers.
CARB's ZEV mandate is a bad idea and no amount of happy talk at an auto show can change that.