WASHINGTON -- Three months after the Obama administration gave California permission to start mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles, automakers are again seeking to block the state's ZEV program.
The two largest lobbying groups for automakers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, filed a petition Monday asking the EPA to rethink the ZEV requirements, most of which would take effect beginning in the 2018 model year.
The filing shows that despite most automakers' support for the new corporate average fuel economy standard that rises to 54.5 mpg in the 2025 model year, the industry will continue battling with California over the state's push for the sale of ZEVs.
Under the ZEV program, automakers would need to sell an estimated 1.4 million plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles in California by 2025, according to California regulators.
Because nine other states are expected to follow California's lead, automakers would need to sell about 600,000 of those vehicles nationwide in 2025, assuming a 14.5 million unit U.S. light-vehicle market.
"It is impossible to predict today whether infrastructural developments, oil prices, consumer confidence and other factors will converge such that automakers will be able to persuade buyers to choose" sufficient numbers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the petition says. "Current data and trends suggest that it is highly unlikely that the industry will be able to meet that mandate."
Supporters of the ZEV rules say the program will prompt automakers to develop and offer the cars needed to lower U.S. oil consumption.
But while automakers may be able to build enough cars to comply with California's rules, the lobbying groups say that is still not enough to make the plan feasible under the law because there is no guarantee consumers will buy them.
"If California were to require that one-half of an auto manufacturer's sales in the state consist of two-door subcompact hatchbacks with 4-speed manual transmissions by 2018," the petition says, "that standard would not be feasible because the motoring public will not purchase that many vehicles with those characteristics."