Gas cars off California roads by 2030

Gas cars off California roads by 2030

Mary Nichols, Chairperson, California Air Resources Board (CARB), has been a pain in the tailpipe to car manufacturers since she re-joined California’s Environmental Protection Association (EPA) in 2007. Bloomberg News’ John Lippert reports that Nichols has set the goal for California higher than ever before stating that she wants every new car sold in California by the year 2030 to be zero- or almost-zero-emissions.

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Nichols has set the Golden State’s emissions level higher than the demand has been for Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV). Car manufacturers have produced ZEV and near-ZEV vehicles for years, but the company that benefits the most is Tesla Motorcars. In almost every quarter since Tesla’s inception, it has received cash or money in kind as a purchase for ZEV credits from other car manufacturers that produce near-ZEV and ZEV vehicles.

In 2008, Nichols talked about CARB and the Fed-EPA. Back then the States were seething because Congress wouldn’t do their job. The auto industry was fighting the States because they said it would be cost prohibitive to implement standards state-to-state, and the auto industry wanted a national standard. Little did the car companies know how much power Nichols and her group wields. Even though California only emits 2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions CARB’s savvy negotiator got a waiver to implement a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In doing so, CARB effectively told the auto industry that they would raise miles per gallon.

Nichols is not interested in the scare mongering of car companies or Congress, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. In 2013, there was speculation that Nichols might be knighted the Federal EPA administrator when the current Fed-EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, confessed to the use of a government email address with a fake name – “Richard Windsor.”

Bloomberg’s article did the math and to meet Governor Brown’s 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, “Regulations on the books in California, set in 2012, require that 2.7 percent of new cars sold in the state this year be, in the regulatory jargon, ZEVs. These are defined as battery-only or fuel-cell cars and plug-in hybrids. The quota rises every year starting in 2018 and reaches 22 percent in 2025. Nichols wants 100 percent of the new vehicles sold to be zero- or almost-zero-emissions by 2030, in part through the greater use of low-carbon fuels that she’s also promoting.”

“The conven­tional internal combustion engine needs to be off the road by 2050 and, since cars last many years, on its way out of new-car showrooms around 2030.” Dave Clegern, a spokesperson for CARB, went into detail, “there are 150,000 ZEV vehicles on the road today in California. The goal is to have 1.5 million by 2025. We already have one-tenth on the road, and we’ve got nine years to go”.

When asked about the 32,000,000 cars on the road and only 150,000 of them being ZEV Clergen reminded me that in 2002 the Los Angeles auto show only had one or two hybrids at the show and the last car show there were 25-50 near-ZEV or ZEV vehicles at the show.

In an email conversation with Catherine Dunwoody, Chief, Fuel Cell Program, California Air Resources Board, I asked Dunwoody How long before the hydrogen highway gets back on track? “We are on track to have around 50 stations when the currently funded and in development stations are complete within the next two years or so. These are the full retail stations that will serve customers owning or leasing FCEVs from Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda, the first to come to market. We have a plan for at least 100 stations to meet projected FCEV customer demand and a second annual report on hydrogen and FCEV deployment“.

My second question was about the production and transferring of hydrogen, “The currently planned stations provide hydrogen produced from natural gas, biogas, and electricity, depending on the station technology. Overall, the mix is projected to be 45% renewably sourced, which exceeds state law requiring at least 33% renewable”.


The hurdles CARB faces with mandates

Mandates can make car companies produce near-ZEV and ZEV vehicles, but it can’t mandate that people have to buy them. If the price of a near-ZEV or ZEV vehicle is too high, there could be a kick back from the customer, and they could keep their old car longer.

Dave Clegern, a spokesperson for CARB, has already seen hybrids become self-sustaining, “rebates are no longer offered on hybrids. The Federal Government gives a tax credit, and the State of California will give a rebate (as in actual cash – the green stuff) for plug-in hybrids. Plug-ins (PHEV) are worth $1,500 on a tax credit, battery electric vehicles (BEV) $2,500, and for the newest of technologies, hydrogen there is a cash rebate of $5,000.

Tax credits and cash rebates have been given on a certain amount of vehicles each year. Once that tax credit, or rebate, is up people do not purchase the car at the same pace. If the tax credit, or rebate, goes away before the vehicle is self-sustaining that could be another problem for CARB.

With that many near-ZEV or ZEV vehicles on the road, California is not going to be able to give customers the right to drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Many people buy their vehicle for that purpose, and the resale of the car is greater if they have that vehicle bumper sticker on the car. Clergen didn’t have an answer as to when ZEV vehicles would completely be out of the HOV lane, or if they would, “when the market is self-sustaining.”

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.