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The Advanced Clean Car program, which aims to put 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles on California roads by 2025

California is pushing the envelope with electric vehicles after a state board voted and approved a program that would require 15.4 percent of new autos sold in the sunshine state to be environmentally friendly by 2025.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) had a two-day meeting last week where it approved the Advanced Clean Car program, which aims to put 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles on California roads by 2025. It also plans to develop an infrastructure for hydrogen refueling stations, and will reduce smog-forming emissions and greenhouse gases.

Automakers, such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Nissan Motor Co. and Chrysler Group, have supported California's latest green effort. However, pure electric vehicles like Nissan's Leaf would be favored over plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt, which is classified as a "transitional zero-emission vehicle" because it still features a gasoline-powered motor.

"Probably the most heartening aspect of this whole rulemaking was the level of cooperation that we received from the industry," said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board. "Overall, the degree of support for the package was just extraordinary."

While automakers are onboard with the idea, dealerships have made it clear that they are not. The reason for this is because the demand for electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles has not been as high as expected. The California New Car Dealers Association as well as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are just a couple of groups protesting the new program.

"We think it's a disconnect with the marketplace," said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "Automakers have invested literally billions of dollars in these technologies, so we have a real stake in trying to sell as many as possible. But no one knows what that number is going to be. And it doesn't help anyone if those cars sit on lots unsold."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers' complaint echoes those of some Chevrolet dealerships in the United States, who recently turned down Volts that GM wants to send them. They partially rejected the Volts due to recent concerns with battery fires, which were taken care of in a recall earlier this month, but also because of low demand for such vehicles.

"[GM's] thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy," said Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick's Chevrolet in Clovis, California, which only sold 10 Volts in 2011 total. "We've never sold more than two in a month."

Despite objections, the California Air Resources Board has pushed the Advanced Clean Car program anyway. The plan hopes to accomplish the reduction of smog-forming emissions by 75 percent by 2025 and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from passenger vehicles by 34 percent between 2015 and 2025. Automakers will be required to begin selling more and more electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles in California starting in 2018 in order to reach the goal of 15.4 percent by 2025.

"That's actually a relatively modest goal, but that's all that we're mandating," said Nichols. "We expect to go beyond that with other incentives we are hoping to be able to offer in terms of direct incentives to people who buy these cars [like] rebates and credits."

California EV drivers have already begun to see some perks to driving environmentally friendly vehicles. Last November, GM announced a Low Emissions Package for Chevrolet Volt drivers in California. The package allows 2012 Volt drivers in the state to apply for a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) traffic lane sticker, which lets drivers bypass congested traffic, as well as a $1,500 rebate in addition to the $7,500 tax credit from the federal government.

Sources: The New York Times, Automotive News

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RE: and if they dont sell that many??
By SoCalBoomer on 1/30/2012 12:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
There are 25 million cars in California so 700K Prius' isn't even 5%, and according to analysis I've read, the present Prius wouldn't qualify for the future standard. In fact pretty much ALL the hybrids of today wouldn't qualify (most don't really give THAT much of an increase in MPG - around 10%).

It's a chicken/egg question. These are cars that, for the most part, people don't want and cost too much money. One reason is cost - they cost a significant amount more than an equivalent; and infrastructure. CARB wants electrics; but short range and a lack of infrastructure means people don't want them. How many Volts (Motor Trend's 2011 CotY) have been sold? Less than 22K world wide, I hear. Seriously? How many Leafs? Not much more. . .

Build us something we want and that we can afford and that will last. . .

Until then, I don't think the sales numbers will happen.

RE: and if they dont sell that many??
By autoboy on 1/30/2012 1:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
California likes to pass these laws and then nobody meets them and nothing happens. We've failed to meet the goals of the last two laws. This one will be no different. It's just more stuff for idle lawmakers to make them feel good about themselves.

Hybrid vehicles are getting pretty good and there is actually some profit to be made in them. Electric and plug ins are not profitable yet. Still, its stupid to mandate this on the supply side of things like they are trying to do, but other perks to efficient vehicles have been a big success like access to the Carpool lanes. When will lawmakers learn consumers will always do what is in their best self interest?

By Solandri on 1/30/2012 3:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
California likes to pass these laws and then nobody meets them and nothing happens. We've failed to meet the goals of the last two laws.

Just to back this up, this was tried in 1990, and was abandoned in 2001.

I suppose one of these days it'll work. But it won't really be because CARB was successful, it'll be more like the broken clock being right twice a day.

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