On January 27, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed extensive new automobile emission standards, which include a mandate to have 1.4 million electric and hybrid vehicles on California roads by 2025. As most residents of the state are aware, California’s automobile emissions standards are the strictest in the nation; however, as environmental concerns grow, other states might follow suit. For example, California’s previous standards have been adopted by 14 other states.
The board unanimously approved the new rules, which require that one in seven new cars sold in the California in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle. The mandate also included a 75% reduction in smog-forming pollutants by 2025 and a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the same period.
Automobile manufactures cooperated with CARB and US regulators on the greenhouse gas mandates in an effort to create a single national standard for those pollutants. On January 26, automakers including Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Corp., General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and others submitted testimony in support of the new standards.
Industry groups representing auto dealers expressed concern that the new regulations would increase the costs of vehicles for consumers and impact the industry’s growth. The California New Car Dealers Association and other industry groups representing those who sell cars claimed that CARB is overestimating consumer demand for electric vehicles and other zero-emission vehicles. Some dealer groups have estimated that about $3,200 would be added to the average cost of a car because of the technological changes; they added that consumers have been slow to adopt them.
CARB’s research staff disputes those estimates and claimed that increases in hybrid and zero-emission sales continue to increase as more of these vehicles cars hit the market. They argue that the fuel cost savings will make up for any vehicle price increase. “Our research shows a $1,400 to $1,900 car price increase. But over the life of the vehicles, the owners save $6,000 in reduced fuel and maintenance costs,” noted board spokesman David Clegern.
One of the nation’s foremost consumer groups, the Consumers’ Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, supported the changes. According to a letter from the group, the rules will “protect consumers by encouraging the development of cleaner, more efficient cars that save families money, help reduce the American economy’s vulnerability to oil price shocks and reduce harmful air pollution.”