ARB Maintains Drive to Zero-Emissions
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) Friday held fast to its mandate requiring automakers to market thousands of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the state starting in 2003.
ARB Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd said, "We have to think not just of 2003 but also of protecting the state's air quality far into the future." He said California could lose the battle against air pollution unless its motor vehicle fleet moves toward zero emissions.
The 11-member Board, after listening to testimony Thursday and Friday, unanimously decided to keep the ZEV mandate in place.
Currently, there are about 2,300 electric vehicles on the road in California as part of a demonstration fleet of ZEVs the automakers were required to produce prior to 2003. Automakers satisfied their demonstration fleet requirements and then stopped making ZEVs.
A number of technological innovations have resulted from the ZEV mandate. Automotive breakthroughs such as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, and cars free of evaporative emissions are now realities as a result of efforts to meet ZEV requirements. ZEVs have won over a large number of supporters who like the quiet ride and efficient operation of zero emission vehicles.
In addition to eliminating tailpipe and evaporative emissions, ZEVs also reduce greenhouse gases and toxic emissions. Dependence on petroleum products and the emissions associated with drilling, refining and transporting those fuels are also reduced with ZEV technology.
The ZEV mandate is an important air pollution control tool since more than half of the state's smog-forming pollutants come from motor vehicles. California is required by the federal government to reduce air pollutants or face federal sanctions. The ARB received about 75,000 letters in support of maintaining the ZEV mandate.
While automakers claim there is little demand for ZEVs, the ARB hearing drew testimony from many consumers who said they were turned away when they went to auto dealerships and tried to get ZEVs.
While upholding the ZEV mandate, the Board expressed concern at several issues:
- Current lack of ZEV availability.
- Market demand.
- Cost and incentives.
Staff was directed to review the regulation and propose appropriate modifications to address these issues and assure successful penetration of ZEVs into the market.
"Even the cleanest internal combustion engine will pollute more as it ages," Dr. Lloyd said. "California needs ZEVs to help offset emissions from the growing number of vehicles on our roads and rising number of miles they are driven each year," he added.
The ZEV mandate was first adopted in 1990. It was modified in 1996 and again in 1998 to provide additional flexibility to automobile manufacturers and to accommodate the growing number of zero and near-zero emission technologies.