DETROIT (Reuters) -- General Motors, DaimlerChrysler AG and Isuzu Motors Ltd. and several auto dealers have dropped a lawsuit against a California clean-air program aimed at cutting emissions in the state, the companies said in a joint statement.
Changes to the plan recommended by state regulators will make it more practical for automakers to comply with the new regulations by selling vehicles other than just electric cars, the original intent of the California regulations.
"We don't agree with the concept of mandated approaches in automotive technology. But we do agree that the modified 2003 zero-emission vehicle regulation may provide the flexibility that we need and were looking for," GM spokesman David Barthmuss said.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) designed a program in the early 1990s to force automakers to sell a certain number of non-polluting, electric cars or trucks, termed zero-emissions vehicles by the industry.
Last year, several automakers and dealers won an injunction in a U.S. District Court delaying the implementation of the mandate until 2005.
Earlier this year, the CARB changed the mandate to give automakers credit for sales of fuel cell vehicles and hybrids, which have both gasoline and electric engines.
Under the new rules, car makers will have to deliver at least 250 fuel cell cars - which generally run on hydrogen - or larger numbers of battery-powered vehicles by 2008. The target rises to 27,500 by 2014, according to the air resources board spokesman.
Alan Lloyd, the CARB chairman, said in a statement that the agreement will help free resources both within the California agency and in the automotive industry to work on advanced technology, including fuel cells, "to help us achieve California's goal of a zero emission vehicle fleet."
Still at issue is a California initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, from vehicles. Automakers see that effort as an attempt to boost fuel economy standards, which they argue is a right reserved for Congress. Recent efforts to raise fuel economy standards in Congress have failed.