It is wrongheaded and inefficient for California to dictate that by 2025 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold in the state must be electric, fuel cell or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The plan violates the intent of the Obama administration's proposed fuel economy rules for the 2017-25 model years. That proposal, publicly supported by most automakers, would set a 54.5 mpg corporate average fuel economy standard for the 2025 model year. It was touted by the administration as a single, national fuel economy standard to improve mpg and reduce hydrocarbon emissions while replacing patchwork state regulations.
But as part of the state's Advanced Clean Car program, the California Air Resources Board is retooling its old zero-emission-vehicles mandate, which first showed up in 1990 and proved to be an expensive dead end.
Worse, 10 other states are likely to follow California's rogue regulation.
The Obama administration is complicit. Rather than rile up environmentalists, the White House shrugs off California's ZEV mandate. The administration doesn't view the tougher California rules as inconsistent or in conflict with the federal requirements. Rather, it accepts CARB's explanation that it will help automakers meet CAFE standards.
But something is lost or conveniently ignored in the thick fog of that rationalization.
Forcing automakers to produce expensive, specified technologies is no guarantee that consumers will buy them -- even with fat incentives and tax credits.
Though several major automakers publicly supported the California ZEV plan, that doesn't make it right for the state to dictate technology. CARB has the legal right to fight smog. But the rational approach would be to set reasonable standards and let automakers determine how best to comply.