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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is considering changes to the Zero Emission Vehicle Program (also commonly known as the "ZEV Mandate") on March 27th at its Board meeting in Sacramento. This is big deal.
The ZEV Program, in short, is a regulation that requires major automakers to produce a certain number of ZEVs each model year in order to do business in California. Some of the credits may be met with vehicles that are not pure ZEVs, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids that include some advanced, low polluting components. The ZEV Program does not treat all vehicles equally; it gives fuel cell vehicles the most credits, then pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, followed by a host of advanced vehicles like hybrids. The ultimate objective is to improve California air quality.
Google.org has been talking with Board Members, staff, and stakeholder groups to understand their perspectives on the proposed changes to the regulations. After meeting with them, we decided there are five recommendations relating to the proposed changes that we will submit to the Air Resources Board. Our hope is that when approved and implemented, the ZEV Program will accelerate innovation and reduce air pollution by getting large numbers of vehicles into consumers’ hands and on the road.
1. Strengthen the newly proposed "enhanced AT PZEV" category to require a minimum capability to drive in pure electric mode for 25 miles to accommodate the commuting range of a majority of drivers and make the vehicles more useful, profitable, and marketable
2. Require automakers produce at least 10,000 electric or fuel cell vehicles total from 2012 to 2014, not the proposed 2,500 vehicles.
3. Do not allow the electric and fuel cell vehicles sold in other states to count towards the credits for the California requirement; placing vehicles in other states will not result in the necessary net improvements in California air quality.
4. Maintain the credit sunset for less efficient, lower power hybrids; the current proposal asks to extend these credits indefinitely.
5. Do not increase the credits for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (low speed vehicles similar to electric golf carts); they are not driven like full-function vehicles that are the focus of the ZEV Program.
To learn more about CARB, the ZEV mandate, and what you can do, check out a more detailed post on our new RechargeIT blog.