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.