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California Muddies The Green Road Yet Again

Posted by: David Kiley on March 28, 2008


California’s clean air regulators voted Thursday to again revise the state rules that had directed automakers to put hundreds of thousands of zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2003. The new requirement is for 7,500 zero-emission vehicles in the period 2012-14, or about a 70 percent reduction from 2003 targets.

If we want to know who killed the electric car? It might not be GM, so much as the California Air Resources Board.

CARB at the same time called for partial zero emission (PZEV) vehicles and advanced technology PZEVs. The new requirement is 66,000 plug-in electrics by 2012-2014.

There is probably nothing so confusing on the AutoBeat than trying to sort out the tortured logic of regulators trying to force greener vehicles on the public. GM, for example, is now saying that plug-in electrics, which run on a battery and has a motor that keep the car running as it recharges the battery after it runs out of juice, could easily cost $48,000 by late 2010 or 2011 when they go on sale. By taking a loss on each unit in the beginning, combined with government incentives, the price at retail might be closer to $32,000.

Meantime, it appears to me that had California kept its mandate on electric and zero-emission vehicles like hydrogen, there is ample evidence that the public’s appetite and interest for electrics is coming back and there is an abundance of products around the world that could have made their way into the California fleet.

Cutting back the electric mandate—technology we have—and pushing the plug-in mandate, which is technology coming, and hydrogen—technology that is pure r&d—seems unfair. God forbid, state regulators, not to mention the Feds, would take the far simpler, politically riskier step of increasing gas taxes. That would force a natural shift to more fuel efficient vehicles (I.e Explorer buyers trading over to Tauruses and Fusions), and the gas tax money could be applied to tax rebates to low-income drivers and to early adopters of green technology. But that would take actual courage given the political fallout these days from raising any tax.

As usual, there is lots of complexity haggled over between automakers and rulemakers. For example, there is a hierarchy among types of zero-emission vehicles, meaning the number of such cars that automakers will have to make by 2014 could vary greatly. If, for example, carmakers produce only hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with a driving range of 300 miles or more, the number they would be required to make could be as few as 5,357 — or 297 cars per automaker per year. I can just see companies now paying people to take that many hydrogen vehicles. If they make only short-range electric vehicles, though, the required number would jump to 12,500.

It all makes my head hurt.

Reader Comments


March 28, 2008 8:27 PM

"Tortured logic" of CA's CARB? No logic is involved. Easy. They are a bunch of arrogant, ignorant, self-promoting, powerful far-left wing largely APPOINTED Crats of both the 'bureau' and 'Demo' stripes with their idiotic Sierra Club supported agenda proceeding to a mighty battle with common sense. This is yet another excellent example of turning over the solution of a massive problem to the very folks who created it in the first place. Easy enough for them with sufficient hype and a dismally ignorant docile (fat-bellied/headed) electorate.

And I have to add that whatever GM has to say is not worth listening to. Just consider the source(s), Herr Loser Lutz, most likely Wimpy Wagoner, and a few other suits protected by flocks, herds, and clots of attorneys and of course, their Golden Parachutes. As with stem-cell research, let others do it more efficiently and far sooner than our government fumblers can.

The facts remain just that, nuclear power generation is our SOLE way out of this little mess. There is no such thing as 'clean coal', all claims to the contrary. Wind and solar are just temporary and costly/inefficient, and dependent upon 1) wind, and 2) sunlight. Losers right out of their sales brochures (other than for those selling them to largely leftist Greenies).

Viewed impartially, yes, I can manage this in a pinch, the 'energy' issue is a really simple/complex problem. And the answer is "N". Period. Then we could have electric cars, a safe reliable power source for all kinds of things. But biases of the ignorant/ill-informed/downright stupid and leftist partisan politics make this such a steep and slippery slope to climb that, in the ende, we all lose. Mrkns, that is. The rest of the world is far more knowing and acting on this information. Just look around. America is in decline, the proof is right there in Congress, the number are in from our various schools, for those with vision to see.


April 2, 2008 4:52 AM

It was feared that there would be a dilution of up to 90% in the requirement of porducing 25,000 cars, because that is what they were pushing for so 70% is somewhat better. Still, talk about taking a step backward!


April 9, 2008 1:28 PM

I am all for zero emissions from all kind of sources like , you know, YOUR NAKED CHIMNEY OR STOVE PIPE!!!!! It makes very miniscule sense to pursue further zero emission regulations as long as we still spews the worst air pollutant known to mankinid . Please, please do not start poohing at me becuase we dont burn that much firewood around.. Also include charcoal, street smoking and sewage stench wavering out of manholes in deep cities.... ugh!! Zero emissions start with YOUR CHIMNEY, REMEMBER THAT.......


April 9, 2008 1:44 PM

Lutz is a green crock


April 9, 2008 2:07 PM

Maybe the big reason America is losing competence is that managements are enjoying too much independence away from anyone in the governement, citizens groupies, workers, and stockholders. Also workers are forgetting all they can about shareholders and unions of concerned idiots....


April 9, 2008 3:06 PM

GM and Ford remind me of Zenith TV company that had been losing money while trumpeting on future HDTVs unti the very last day when Goldstar took over the Illinois giant TV factory from Zenith as part of a semi-bankruptcy agreement made a few years hence.


April 9, 2008 3:21 PM

What I am trying to shake you up about is that you dont have the luxury of time anymore... The Fed cant be counted to jiggle the levers and switches much longer. You can not write about usual stuff about cars as before. not anymore in this time of hard knock ass recession unlike before . You ought to start writing about how urgent it is for would be import car buyers to start thinking really hard about whether it is a penny wise and a pound dumb bam bam to pick an import just to save a little on expected repair bills. It can be their job and their repossessed well made import car or another way around. Our economy is sucking on lemons long enough for them not to know the difference between a lemon car and a glass of lemonade.... You hear me, moron!!


April 9, 2008 3:23 PM

Maybe we , carbuyers who are very loyal to unions and UAW included, would feel vindicated if Wagoneer and Lutz and Mullally just leave their jobs without too much stash money as usual . That way, everything would seem fair for all. If you ask about shareholders, well, I tell you ... they are close to wiped out already and they are still holding out for all of you.. Just spare the shareholders, will ya?

John Lewis Mealer

April 10, 2008 2:50 AM

Mealer American Motor Co., (MAMC) is a new Green Automobile, truck and motorcycle design and manufacturing company that is wholly American owned and operated. We rely on the American workforce to build our better-constructed vehicles and sell them at very competitive prices.

Not just another auto manufacturer, but a builder of fine automobiles that do not depend on fossil fuels, solar power or electrical motors for movement. We have the design that the automobile builders worldwide have overlooked since the beginning of production. Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, we design and build our vehicles right while helping to keep America a stronger nation than it would be without us. Innovation of Green Engineering is our key to success.

Keep an eye on our team.

“A Stronger America is a Stronger World, Own a Piece of What Matters Most.”

John Lewis Mealer
Providing 50 ways to leave the oil love affair!

James Hanlon

April 12, 2008 1:35 AM

Dutchman Enterprises of Ne Jersey , a privately owned Corporation , has combined old , tested and proven technologies into a kit that is now on the market . Anyone mechanically inclined can perform the installation . They have installed several hundred on various makes and models with excellent results . They " guarantee " a 50% improvement in fuel economy or 100% of your money back . They can offer this because their average improvements have been 95% . This modification doesn't violate tampering laws thus doesn't require EPA approval . This is kit called the " Hydro Assist Fuel Cell " is just " PHASE # 1 " of their technologies .

Phase #2 is called the " Pre Ignition Catalytic Converter " which does indeed require EPA approval . Protocol in preparation for CARB testing is in progress . Testing on 318 Chrysler engine utilizing a dynomometer simulating a 30% grade , pulling a trailer , 50% load , 3000 RPMs at 65 MPH for 1 hour resulted in the utilization of 18 pounds of gasoline before modification and only 2 pounds of gasoline after modification . That's 22 MPG to 196 MPG improvement . The exhaust is so clean it can be safely breathed .

Now , let's see if CARB is non-corrupt !!

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