Auto Alliance Urges ZEV States To Be More Like California


Automakers do not believe that other ZEV states are showing the same commitment to electric vehicle adoption as California.

In early June, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers sent letters to the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. In the letter, the Auto Alliance says that other than California, state governments are not stepping up to the plate.

They state that if ZEV regulations are going to succeed, it will be based on the “sturdiness of a three-legged stool supported by automakers, government and consumers.” Of course, the group argues that outside of California, state governments are not providing enough incentive for their citizens to go electric.

From an excerpt of one letter sent to Connecticut:

The biggest challenge is that government has not been fully cognizant of the shared obligation in helping to meet its commitment to ZEVs with actions and decisions that enable the program to work.

If ZEV policy is working anywhere, it’s California, where the state deserves credit for “leading by example” by investing in infrastructure and providing meaningful incentives to help make ZEVs a rational choice for Californians.

But California is unique. No other state has stepped up in the same way. And that means that ZEV policy can’t succeed. It becomes a costly aspiration rather than a viable strategy, a feel-good talking point but not a catalyst for sustainable change. Our perspective is simple. If a state adopts the ZEV mandate from California as it’s own, it must do two things to strengthen the third leg of the proverbial stool. First, it must forge state policy that makes the purchases of ZEVs more attractive. Policy would include financial incentives, HOV access, parking benefits and, of course, infrastructure to recharge (or refuel in the case of hydrogen).

Second, Connecticut should lead by example. A ZEV mandate should include ZEV vehicles in their yearly state fleet purchasing programs at the same percentage as required by the general population under the ZEV mandate, and arguably at an even higher rate. Fleets enjoy more tangible benefits because of the more efficient opportunities for charging and refueling.

While the letter suggests only California is pulling its weight, in reality, results are mixed. There are many state and local initiatives to support plug-in adoption. Some commonly used tactics: rebates on vehicle or EVSE purchases, HOV lane access, and emission testing exemption for plug-in hybrids.

Not all consumers know these financial benefits of course. So seven states have teamed up with the alliance to educate consumers on electric vehicle benefits. 12 east coast states have also joined together to tackle EV charging infrastructure. Even many non-ZEV states have multiple financial incentives available.

California is still the king

Despite progress, there is no doubt that California has been the most active and multi-faceted in their approach. Unfortunately, one CARB policy has also held back success in other states.

The travel provision heavily favored sales in California at the expense of other ZEV states. For every vehicle sold in California, an automaker would receive equivalent credits in all other CARB states.

Of course, it was the decision of some automakers to create limited production vehicles for sale only on the west coast. There was nothing preventing them from selling their vehicles nationwide. Tesla, Nissan, General Motors, and BMW have sold most of their electric line-up nationwide for years.

Fiat 500e in California

But the policy meant selling in any state other than California was discouraged. Thankfully the travel provision has now ended for plug-ins, although it remains in effect for fuel cell vehicles.

Now state governments and manufacturers cannot rely on credits earned from the travel provision. This should encourage other automakers to make their electrics more widely available.

It’s true that many states have not done enough to encourage EV adoption. But it is also true that many legacy automakers only made the bare minimum effort to develop the vehicles. Thankfully the situation is improving somewhat on both sides, but we still have a long road ahead.

The full press release and text of the letters can be read below:

Source: Auto Alliance, Automotive News

Categories: General

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14 Comments on "Auto Alliance Urges ZEV States To Be More Like California"

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This is an interesting twist of events. I am reasonably sure the Auto Alliance would privately prefer the costly ZEV mandate to just go away and leave them alone to make big, profitable SUVs and truckalypses (truck+apocalypse). That they are whining to the states to do their part is, in some ways, reassuring.

Or, they could just quit their whining and make money selling EVs. Unless that’s impossible to do unsubsidized.

Auto makers will build whatever is selling. If there was no mandate they would build whatever the customer demands. Ford and FCA/Chrysler didn’t decide to stop selling car because of mandates. It’s because no one was buying them. If a person can pay $20k and get a car, or $23k to get an CUV. Which one do you think most people at least in the US will choose?

Also the automakers would love a single standard. Because that would force everyone to play by the same rules.

Everyone is playing by the same rules! What are you talking about? The mandates in CA are for all manufacturers. Automakers would love to downturn the CARB and have no regulations because, as we all know, the air quality in the woods of Montana is just as good as in downtown LA or NYC.
And what is with this “build whatever is selling” crap? You know that’s not the case when it comes to evs. Tesla just proved that to the world by their super long tm3 reservation list. If so many want such car how come the ice manufacturers are so slow to get there? What other similar options are there now? An ugly Bolt, a short range and limited sale Ionic, a questionable battey Leaf?
Are you really free to choose when there are no good choices? Wake up dude, you are being played!

Let’s not forget where SUVs (and later CUVs) came from. They were the automakers’ answer decades ago to regulation requiring more efficient cars. Since that legislation exempted “trucks” which were defined as having a body on a frame, the automakers just adjusted their designs to make a “passenger vehicle” on a frame and voila! they had a way around the legislation. Then they pushed them like crazy for a couple decades and now claim “everyone wants SUVs instead of cars”. Self serving answer.

It really depends on the automaker. They all have different long term goals. Some are better prepared for mainstream EVs than others.

Of alliance members, I think it’s safe to say that Ford and Fiat have shown very different long term goals than BMW or GM for instance.

Other companies like Toyota and Mazda sit in between – they make very fuel efficient vehicles but are concerned about “stranded investmemt” in Toyotas own words should Plug-in marketshare grow significantly.

A group like the auto alliance has to represent a large number of company policies. Some want to do as little effort as possible to comply and the more government investment, the easier automakers can sell EVs.

Others see a huge market in the near future and want to accellerate towards that since they have already invested heavily. The more people buy, the more they benefit. So more investment from government the better.

And no major automaker is interested in charging infrastructure. At best they want to offer a supportive role in charging station installations.

So asking states to contribute more serves all of these interests.

Not liking this at all. Basically, they’re asking for government to provide financial incentives for the consumers so that they’d be willing to pay a higher price for EV’s. What the “Alliance” should be doing is ramp up production to lower their marginal costs for producing an EV so that they can sell the cars at a lower price, effectively enticing consumers to buy the EV’s instead of ICE’s _without_ the need for state incentives.

Everyone is being harmed by ICEs. Of course it would be more straight forward to charge extra for ICEs, but it’s politically easier to put incentives on EVs instead. In any case, the State has to be involved.

True. But also, take WA, where there is a state law that local and state governments are supposed to transition their fleets to EVs but have utterly failed to do so. Lead by example.

It’s easy to say, “just ramp up and be profitable” — but that doesn’t mean this is actually doable, outside the premium sector. Not yet, not without significant subsidies.

This past weekend I took a trip from East End of Long Island to Central CT, in my 93 mile Kia Soul EV. Both NY and CT leave a lot to be desired in charging infrastructure as all that was viable was EVgo and Chargepoint at not so convenient locations. So much so that I choose to take the Port Jeff Bridgeport ferry at a cost of $116 round trip to avoid having to charge anywhere except my destination. Sad state of affairs that the LIE has 1 charge point accessible, conveniently in the East bound direction only, for 2 million people! The I-95 corridor apparently has charging stations at rest stops but didn’t show up in PlugShare, ChargePoint or EVgo’s apps. so, Who knew they were there? It’s such a wild west EV space still in our local market.

And if there’s a charging point it’s not a high speed charging point. Hence, the BMW i3 REX. Where if you have to take a long trip you use the gas engine generator, because slow charging, and ICEd stations can occur on a trip. Also, there are just not that many charging stations available.

And I consider 120volt charging stations not relevant except for Volt drivers, and Prius Plugin drivers.

They should have sent a letter to WA too.

Reading between the lines: If you, the states, want clean energy, we, the AAM, want the states to pay for our transition to EVs by the method of an indirect pass through incentive. We charge a premium on the vehicle and you use tax money to pay an incentive to the buyer. Otherwise, we, the AAM, will continue to follow the Trump/Republican agenda of paying back our campaign donors, the fossil fuel special interests, by building dirty cars.

So the manufacturers want more subsidies. Surprise…