Release 96-5      
March 29, 1996
  CONTACT: Daven Oswalt
(916) 327-6247

Jerry Martin / Allan Hirsch
(916) 322-2990
Consumer Driven Electric Vehicle Introduction Adopted by ARB

-- The California Air Resources Board today adopted a revised program for the introduction of Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) in California. The revised regulation assures Californians that more than 800,000 electric-powered vehicles will be on the state's roads by 2010.

"The Air Resources Board has voted for cleaner cars and cleaner air and our actions are ensuring a viable consumer driven electric vehicle market in California. We now need buyers for electric cars. We have a tough contract with the automakers and we can now roll up our sleeves and work together to ensure a successful launch of ZEVs," said ARB Chairman John Dunlap.

The Board, acting on a staff proposal, voted unanimously to retain the requirement that 10 percent of all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in California in 2003 and beyond have zero emissions. As part of its action the Board suspended specific production requirements for years 1998-2002. The revisions convert the Zero Emission Vehicle rule to a program that lets the marketplace determine how many electric vehicles are offered for sale over the next few years. Projections are that automakers have the capability to produce as many as 14,000 electric vehicles each year. Currently there are about 1,200 electric cars registered in California.

In place of the 2 percent requirement for 1998, the Board directed the ARB staff to sign a Memorandum of Agreement, a binding, enforceable contract between California and each of the seven manufacturers currently subject to the ZEV requirements. The MOA establishes a Technology Partnership which will place as many as 3,750 advanced ZEVs on the state's roads beginning in 1998. These vehicles will be equipped with advanced batteries that provide driving ranges of 125 miles between charges. The Partnership will also help to commercialize advanced batteries and other technologies such as fuel cells, that are critical to an expanding and sustainable market for ZEVs.

The agreement also commits the manufacturers to build a cleaner car for its national market beginning in 2001, which is three years before U.S. EPA would require such a clean-up. This cleaner car emits the same as a California Low Emission Vehicle which is about 60 percent less polluting than any car now sold in other states. Nearly 18 percent of cars newly registered in California each year were not built to the ARB's strict tailpipe standards and will emit significantly more pollution during their lifespans than comparable California models. With this agreement, cars that migrate from other states to California will be cleaner, helping to reduce air pollution.

"Not only have we guaranteed zero-emission vehicles for California, but we have also assured cleaner cars for the rest of the nation," Dunlap added.

To assure that all seven major manufacturers, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda, adhere to the new agreement, heavy damage payments are provided should there be a violation. The ARB retains the authority to reinstate the original 2 percent ZEV production requirement if there are contract violations.

At a press conference immediately following the vote on the regulation, Chairman Dunlap was surrounded by all seven automaker's electric models at the ARB headquarters. The electric cars displayed here today illustrates just how far California has come in its quest of developing ZEVs. "With the ZEV rule modified, it is now time to successfully implement electric vehicles in California," Dunlap said. Dunlap's implementation strategy includes forming an EV Implementation Advisory Committee, monitoring battery technology development, a ZEV technology conference, charging the ARB Internet site as the place for sharing information, and promoting research and development of new ZEV technologies, including fuel cells.

"With today's regulatory improvements, California takes a critical step towards ensuring the success of a critical environmental technology," Dunlap concluded.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

For additional information on electric vehicles, please contact the ARB website at the address listed above.

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