Image courtesy of Osbornb via flickr
It wasn't quite the death-knell for electric vehicles that some had feared - as AutoblogGreen's Sebastian Blanco noted, many had expected the cut to the number of zero-emission vehicles sold to be as much as 90% - but it sure as heck came close. In a unanimous decision, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted Thursday to cut by 70% the number of zero-emission vehicles that automakers would need to sell in the coming years - down to 7,500 between 2012 and 2014 from the 25,000 figure set under previous rules - reports the LAT's Ken Bensinger. According to Green Car Congress, this new floor target is still three times the number proposed by CARB's staff in their suggested revisions to the state's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. Under the new rules, carmakers will be required to build 58,000 PHEVs, a provision that was missing from the previous scheme. In addition, its board adopted a resolution to overhaul the program to align it with California's stricter emission standards (those still in limbo because of the EPA's interference); on the downside, that overhaul won't take place until at least the end of 2009.
Mary Nichols, CARB's chairwoman, argued that the previous regulation was unrealistic in its provision for the number of zero-emission vehicles that needed to be sold (to which we'd say: go watch Who Killed the Electric Car?). The LAT notes that many of the last-minute provisions inserted into the measure will likely cause confusion by creating a hierarchy among different zero-emission vehicles - potentially leading to tremendous variation in the number of such vehicles produced by 2014.
On a whole, this decision is still better than nothing - but so much less than it could've been.
Via ::Green Car Congress: California Air Resources Board Votes to Modify ZEV Program in Short-Term; Complete Overhaul to Begin for New ZEV II (blog), ::Los Angeles Times: State deals blow to zero-emission vehicle supporters (newspaper)