LOS ANGELES - Mazda Motor Corp. is considering buying zero-emission vehicle credits from Ford Motor Co. to allow it to bypass the initial three years of the California Air Resources Board emissions mandate.
For the 1998-2000 model years, Mazda is required to build 138 zero-emission vehicles as part of the air resources board's demonstration fleet program. Mazda's plans to meet the mandate had been somewhat fuzzy, although a hybrid or fuel-cell Miata had been the most mentioned option.
Ford has announced plans to sell an electric version of the Ranger pickup, but has other smaller-volume zero-emission vehicles also in the works, such as the EcoStar van.
Buying credits from Ford, which owns 33.5 percent of Mazda, would free Mazda from having to spend millions of dollars in r&d expenses to meet a very low-volume vehicle regulation. A Mazda spokesman said a final decision has not been made on whether to buy Ford credits.
By 2003, 10 percent of an automaker's California fleet must be zero-emission vehicles. The Big 3, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda are required to meet the mandate.
The agreement with Ford does not relieve Mazda from the 2003 requirement, said resources board spokesman Rich Varenchik.