California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering doing away with the California Air Resources Board, but representatives of some automakers aren't so sure.
The board is included in a proposal to suspend 118 boards and commissions as a way to save the state about $32 billion over five years.
But while the board at times has been a thorn in the auto industry's side, no one is openly rooting for its demise.
"We've developed quite a historical relationship with the regulators in California," said Mark Chernoby, vice president of advance vehicle engineering for DaimlerChrysler, at the Management Briefing Seminars on Thursday. "Building on that relationship is a lot easier than projecting your activities into the unknown."
It would be easier and more cost effective for automakers to launch fuel-saving technologies if they had to work with a single set of regulations, noted the panelists at the advanced power technology forum.
"Consistency of policy is what's really important," said Graham Hoare, director of powertrain research for Ford Motor Co.
But eliminating CARB wouldn't create that situation.
"My fear is what would replace the Air Resources Board," said Dave Hermance, executive engineer at Toyota Motor Corp.'s technical center in Gardena, Calif. "We may not always like what they propose and implement. But after years of working with them, we've come to understand what they do, and they've learned from us."
An industry-government partnership is key to moving advanced technologies from the research and development departments into public use, said Beth Lowery, vice president of environment and energy for General Motors.
"We'll work with whatever regulatory body there is in California," she said. "What's important is that we work together."