California Not Backing Down on Electric Vehicle Sales Mandate

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 6

Smog.  Or is smoggy?

Smog. Or is it smoggy?

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), told reporters on Wednesday that the state had no plans of reducing its zero-emission vehicle requirements, despite lower than anticipated sales.

The Detroit News quotes Nichols as follows:

Fiat 500e is one of several automobiles often referred to as compliance vehicles, which are produced specifically to meet California's mandates.

Fiat 500e is one of several automobiles often referred to as compliance vehicles, which are produced specifically to meet California’s mandates.

“The mandate is actually rather lower in comparison to our hopes for EVs.  Yes, it’s taken off a little slower than we hoped it would… It’s just going to take a little longer. We see enough good signs not to feel like we have to change course.”

CARB is taking some heat for its mandate from automakers who claim that developing and manufacturing electric vehicles is rather easy, but selling them to the general public is not.   Several automakers have urged CARB to lessen its required sales of zero-emissions vehicles in response to low consumer demand, but CARB has no interest in that approach.

Nichols stated:

“For the first few years because we are giving credits for ultra low emission vehicles, there are enough credits in the system so that anybody that can’t meet the mandate will be OK.”

The Detroit News succinctly breaks down the general gist of the complex mandates by saying that CARB requires “automakers to sell a combined 7,500 zero-emission vehicles between 2012 and 2014.”  It’s actually way more complex due to so-called “zero-emissions credits” that automakers have earned and can “sell” or “trade” to other automakers.

But the argument still remains the same.  Automakers don’t want to be forced to build vehicles (often referred to as compliance cars) simply to satisfy CARB’s mandates, especially if the general public shows only a slight interest in purchasing.

If the public doesn’t buy, then the cost of development and production of compliance vehicles is essentially a total lost for the automaker because those actions haven’t resulted in a vehicle that satisfies CARB’s target sales requirements.

It’s likely this back-and-forth argument is far from over, but we expect CARB to hold its stance, as that’s what it’s often done in the past.

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6 responses to "California Not Backing Down on Electric Vehicle Sales Mandate"

  1. “It’s likely this back-and-forth argument is far from over, but we expect CARB to hold its stance, as that’s what it’s often done in the past.”

    Don’t be too sure. Often doesn’t mean always. In 2003 CARB did a 180 and reversed their policy, effectively killing the electric car. That’s when the automakers all gathered up the EV’s they had out there and crushed them all. Only some RAV4 EV’s and a few Ford Ranger EV’s survived. It can happen again, though I agree it’s less likely and the cars out there today will not be gathered up and crushed, we would just see less manufacturers making them and it would stifle industry growth.

  2. David Murray says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about the CARB requirements. On one hand, we have companies producing vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf that are selling in real numbers.. Not necessarily high numbers, but numbers that are way beyond being compliance cars. Which would suggest EVs are coming and nothing is going to stop them, regardless of what CARB does.

    On the other hand, forcing manufactures to make something that people will buy does sort of create some sort of competition in the market. Even if a manufacturer plans to make a compliance car, they still have to get people to buy them. Which means they have to engineer the car to be as good or better than the competition.

  3. Herm says:

    Its fine if they dont want to build them, just buy the credits from other manufacturers then.. imagine if the credits from the sale of a Leaf were worth $10k to Nissan?

  4. BlindGuy says:

    When I was growing-up my mom would “encourage” me to eat things like broccoli and fish but now I love it and realize the great benefits as well. You go CARB! And maybe more States will follow your example for a better future JMO.

  5. taser54 says:

    I wish Cali would mandate a balanced budget too.

  6. Josh says:

    California is doing these auto makers a favor, at least they will have spent a little development effort understanding the technology. Otherwise they would be sitting on their hands, 10 years behind in technology, having Tesla, Nissan, and GM eat their lunch when the sales start to take off.