California Air board insists on electric cars : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Air board insists on electric cars By Leon Drouin Keith ASSOCIATED PRESS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SACRAMENTO  California's air-quality board has told the auto industry to stop lobbying against requirements to put an estimated 22,000 electric cars on the road by 2003 and start collaborating on a plan to make it happen. In doing so Friday, the state Air Resources Board voted unanimously to keep its mandate for zero-emission vehicles but directed its staff to modify the rules to make that goal achievable. Such modifications would include finding ways to make electric vehicles more affordable.

"It's important that the board send a clear, concise message that the mandate's going to stay," said board member Mark DeSaulnier.

Board members, seated around bags and boxes containing tens of thousands of letters in favor of the rules, said California needed to keep the mandate because doing so would promote economies that eventually would lead to the proliferation of electric vehicles worldwide.

Environmentalists applauded the board's decision and said they were confident any rule changes would be minor.

"It's like a tune-up of the program, not a major overhaul," said Roland Hwang, transportation program co-director for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Industry officials said they had gotten the message, and added that they were heartened that board members had directed staff to figure out how to make electric cars affordable without subjecting automakers to huge losses.

"It's been a dream for Californians for some time to have zero-emission vehicles on the road," said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "I think they just reaffirmed the dream."

But she added that California was in for a case of "EV sticker shock" as more vehicles hit the sales lots. An air board study estimates that electric vehicles cost $7,500 to $20,000 more than their gas-guzzling equivalents.

The zero-emission vehicle mandate, adopted in 1990, requires clean or nearly clean vehicles to make up 10 percent of the fleets automakers sell in California, beginning in 2003. Only 4 percentage points of those cars need to be electric cars, which come far closer to producing zero emissions than any other vehicle available.

Because the rule uses a formula that gives automakers extra credit for things such as producing electric vehicles early or with relatively long ranges between charges, board staff estimates that about 22,000 vehicles will need to be on the road in three years. That's about 10 times more than the number on California roads now.

A $5,000-a-car incentive for purchasing the vehicles expires next year. A bill awaiting Gov. Davis' signature would replace it with a three-year plan offering $3,000 incentives.

Several owners, leasers and would-be owners of electric cars told the board the real problem iwa a lack of availability. A few of them made the roughly 400-mile drive from the Los Angeles area in electric vehicles, stopping two or three times to recharge along the way.

Gary Grahumke, a cryptographic engineer from Hillboro, Ore., said he'd been trying to get a Ford EV Ranger since March. "It reminds you of the Eastern Bloc economy," he said.

Board members rejected automakers' contention that focusing on cleaner burning gasoline and diesel vehicles would be a more cost-effective way to clean air, saying that in a state expected to have 50 million people by 2020, they were no replacement for electric in the long run.

But board members also told staff to look into whether automakers should get more credit for producing "hybrid" vehicles that plugged into electricity but use gasoline for auxiliary power.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 09, 2000


Hybrid vehicles, that's the only way to go. I can't understand why the California politicians are so insistent on the pure electric car, so inefficient and overly-expensve that nobody is going to buy.

-- Uncle Fred (, September 09, 2000.

California politicians are a breed apart. The Democratic Party holds the governor's office, both senatorial positions, a majority of the congressmen,and both state legislative houses. They are completely beholden to the Sierra Club, the Teachers Unions, and the daffy Entertainment Industry in Hollywood. They run everything.

We will, therefore, be the state that is hit the hardest, when all this energy shortages stuff really hits the fan.

-- JackW (, September 09, 2000.

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