Friday, January 9, 2015

California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate – Is it working?

In 2003, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated that 10% of the vehicles sold in California must be zero emission vehicles. So how has that worked out? Based on what I see around the San Francisco Bay Area I would say fairly well. I’ve never seen so many hybrids and all-electric vehicles. And that’s just the ones that stand out. Some hybrids don’t look much different than their gasoline powered cousins.

But looking at cars on the road or in parking lots is just anecdotal so I decided to look at some hard numbers (as much as possible).

In calendar year 2014 (as opposed to model year) there were approximately 1,800,000 new vehicles sold in California. That in itself is darn good. No matter how powerful a new car is it is cleaner than a car from even a decade ago. So buying a new car helps save the environment.

Based on the figure of 1.8 million CARB would like to see 180,000 zero emission vehicles (10%). Did we meet that goal? No, but we didn’t miss it by much. In calendar year 2014 approximately 162,000 zero emission vehicles were sold in California.

I don’t know about CARB but I’m impressed. That’s a huge number. I am most impressed by the number of electric vehicles I see out and about. Tesla alone sold almost 7,000 vehicles nationwide.

Here’s a list of Zero Emission Vehicles lifted from CARB:
BMW               i3 EV
BYD                 E6
Chevrolet        Spark EV
Fiat                  500e
Ford                 Focus EV
Honda              FCX
Honda              Fit EV
M-B                 B-Class Electric
Mitsubishi       i-MiEV
Nissan              Leaf
Smart              Fortwo Electric
Tesla                Model S
Toyota             RAV4 EV

That’s just the electric vehicles. There are as many or more Transitional Zero Emission Vehicles.

Driving range is still the big bugaboo but even that is getting better. Tesla recently announced that they would have a vehicle capable of driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles without recharging. I suspect that many electric vehicle owners have, or rent, a second vehicle for long trips. For most driving around town the electrics are fine. More and more parking lots are sprouting charging stations for electric vehicles and in most of them on busy days the spots are in use.

I do have a suggestion for CARB, and it might widen the number of possible buyers of zero-emission vehicles. Require all new apartment buildings, offices, factories, etc. to have 10% of their parking spaces equipped with charging stations. I now live in an apartment complex and without a means of charging an electric vehicle there’s no way I can use on, not even for a week.

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