California Calls for 1.4 Million Electric Vehicles by 2025

By · December 20, 2011

LA traffic at night

Can you imagine nearly one in seven new cars in California as an electric car, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell car? That's what California is proposing by 2018.

Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposed a new package of tough clean vehicle standards, which the agency calls the Advanced Clean Cars program. The program, aimed at vehicles manufactured from 2015 to 2025, is a mash-up of existing standards that currently are separately tracked. The target to keep your eye on is CARB’s goal for electric vehicles. Starting in 2018 and running through 2025, CARB proposes a target of selling enough zero emission vehicles (ZEV) to put 1.4 million of them on the road by 2025.

Correction: When I first posted this story, I got the numbers mixed up, falsely reported that the 1.4 million target was for annual sales. That's not the case. The 1.4 million is the cumulative number of ZEVs that would be on California roads by 2025. The board defines a ZEV as a pure electric car, a plug-in hybrid, or a hydrogen fuel cell car. The Union of Concerned Scientists believes the 1.4 million target "should be stronger." In a UCS press release in response to the CARB proposal, Don Anair, senior engineer with the UCS Clean Vehicles program said California should "set a 30 percent more aggressive sales target,” while eliminating its credit system that creates loopholes for carmakers.

ZEV target ramp up

The proposed CARB rules for zero emission vehicles would ramp up the requirements to 15 percent of sales by 2025.

According to the agency, the 1.4 million target—when combined with its other initiatives for those years—would achieve these goals:

  • Decrease auto emissions by 52 million metric tons
  • Save Californians $22 billion through 2025
  • Save individual consumers $4,000 over the life of the typical car sold in 2025, even after spending more money on a clean tech vehicle
  • Create 21,000 new jobs across the state as consumers spend less money on gasoline and transfer those savings to other purchases

While CARB's zero emissions mandates focus on electric and fuel cell vehicles, more efficient gas and diesel cars are also an important part of the mix. CARB set a CO2 emissions limit of 166 grams per kilometer— which converts to approximately 33 mpg for gasoline-powered cars. For diesel vehicles, 166 g/km roughly converts to 37.5 miles per gallon. These limits—which align with emerging federal standards—would be enforced starting in 2017. CARB also wants oil companies to install hydrogen refueling stations.

Is the 1.4 million goal too high? Too low? Somewhere in between? Express your views in the comments below, and on CARB’s website, where the public review period for the proposal runs through Jan. 26. The site also provides a full set of the proposed rules and other background information.

New to EVs? Start here

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