California’s influential Air Resources Board has just released a comprehensive assessment of the status of the state’s “Advanced Clean Car” regulations. While the report is not only about electric vehicles, the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle program is evaluated in detail. Overall, the findings are very positive on how California’s leadership on clean vehicle policy has spurred much of the auto industry to make new technologies available for consumers.
Electric vehicle technologies quickly moving forward
The 662-page report will take some time to digest, but the top line findings are clear: Electric vehicle technology is moving faster than was anticipated just 5 years ago. California leads the nation with over 250,000 EVs sold to date, and the number of plug-in vehicles is now approaching 30 models. The report cites many of factors that are accelerating the EV market, including dramatic improvements in battery performance and costs and the rapidly expanding charging infrastructure in California and the other states that have adopted the Zero Emission Vehicle regulation.
Stage is set to go further with clean car policies
The current pace of deployment also puts us on the road to increasing levels of EV adoption, displacing a growing amount of oil use and harmful emissions. One of the key recommendations in the report is that the Air Resources Board should move to adopt new ZEV standards to extend the current provisions which currently are set to plateau in 2025. The regulation will need to be strengthened to ensure that the state is on a trajectory to meeting both 2030 and later climate targets and the air quality standards in the state’s Central Valley and Los Angeles regions.
Strong signals needed to keep momentum
There are many positive signs for EVs. December 2016 set an all-time high for EV sales in the US, almost double the rate from a year ago. The introduction of the Chevy Bolt, the first long-range battery electric at a mass-market price has generated significant interest, as did Tesla’s announcement of its lower-cost Model 3.
However, not all automakers are shifting to clean technologies with the same effort. Some have zoomed ahead, like General Motors with plug-in cars making up over 5% of their new cars sold in California. On the other hand, several major car companies, like Honda and Fiat Chrysler, have done the bare minimum to comply with California regulations and almost nothing outside of the state. Therefore, the current Zero Emission Vehicle regulation needs to not only continue, but be strengthened after 2025. The report lays out the technical evidence for these conclusions.