Consumers want clean-car options
Consumers Union is the public policy division of Consumer Reports.
To the Editor:
Consumers Union respectfully disagrees with the editorial "CAFE is enough; ZEV rules defy logic, buyer choice" (Dec. 3).
Automakers have to build desirable vehicles in order to sell them; that's what they do best. But consumer interest in zero- and near-zero emission vehicles is strong, and it requires coordination to move from an oil-based infrastructure 100 years in the making to an alternative that just became available to consumers two years ago. Current options for alternative-fuel vehicles are limited, but the ZEV mandate will help change that.
There's a chicken-and-egg problem that solidifies oil's near-monopoly on transportation. Markets alone can't fix that. Consumers want more clean-car options and recognize that it takes coordinated public policy to deliver cost-effective choices in the long term. California's Advanced Clean Cars Program (including the ZEV mandate) and other efforts in the state are timing the delivery of fueling infrastructure with alternative-fuel vehicles that will give consumers the choices they want.
In November 2011, the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that about a third of the nation's car owners would consider an electric vehicle for their next vehicle purchase. If availability improves over the next 15 years, half of consumers who plan to buy a vehicle would consider an electric vehicle.
Consumers who have experienced vehicles with zero-emission technology are enthusiastic. In Consumer Reports' owner satisfaction survey, alternative-fuel and fuel-efficient vehicles were standouts, with the Chevy Volt topping the list two years in a row.
Lack of consumer experience with the vehicles and desire for greater range limit current sales, but automakers are finding solutions already. The Tesla Model S has a longer range and nearly a yearlong waiting list.