Fate of California's Electric Cars In Question Again
By EV World
If California's Air Resources Board adopts the recommendations of its staff on March 27, 2008, the number of "Gold Standard" Zero Emission Vehicles or ZEVs will be dramatically diluted, according to the American Lung Association of California, which has long supported the cause of electric-drive vehicles, explains Bonnie Holmes-Gen, their state policy director in Sacramento.
According to a brief distributed by the organization late last week, had the mandate remained in force, rather than postponed, then eviscerated, there would be between 750,000 and 850,000 "Gold Standard" ZEVs on the state's roads, with another 150,000 to 170,000 added every year.
Instead, the only such "pure ZEV" cars are a relatively small number of carmaker owned fuel cell prototypes and perhaps a few thousand battery electric cars, many of them converted by their owners from gasoline. The staff's new proposal reduces the anticipated 75,000 ZEVs down to just 27,500 between 2012 and 2017.
From the perspective of the California Lung Association, the issue is a human health one. Using a consulting firm to conduct their study, they conclude in their write paper The Road to a Cleaner Future that "California’s continued reliance on gasoline vehicle technologies will cost more than $18 billion to society in the year 2010 alone."
They estimate that if the entire motor vehicle fleet were converted to electric-drive, it would result in $142 billion in savings to society in the twenty years between 2010 and 2030.
"This savings includes savings from reduced air pollution health impacts and reduced global warming impacts to the society (including impacts to air, water, energy forests and other sectors)," states the study.
While Holmes-Gen isn't willing to make a prediction about the fate of ZEVs in the upcoming hearings, she did predict that the mandate will have to be extensively overhauled at some point to bring it into harmony with the State's recently enacted greenhouse gas reduction law (AB 32 - Nunez/Pavley bill). And an aggressive schedule of electric and fuel cell car requirements have to an important part of it, in her view.
Playing the devil's advocate for a moment, EV World asks her why the mandate is even needed now that companies like General Motors are planning to sell tens of thousands of range-extended electric cars like the Volt by 2010 or shortly thereafter? To find out how she responds, be sure to listen to the 23-minute interview, which we conducted the day before the Air Resources Board meeting.
You can use either of the two MP3 players at the top of the page or feel free to download it to your computer for transfer to and playback on your favorite MP3 device. And if you wish to tune in CARB's hearings, they will be available via Internet streaming video starting at 8 AM Pacific Time.