California Board Approves 15.4% of New Autos Sold to Be "Green" by 2025
January 30, 2012 10:31 AM
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.
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