Automaker Groups Petition EPA to Reconsider California Zero Emission Mandates

2003 Ford Focus PZEV

The two largest automaker lobbying organizations filed a petition on Monday asking the US Environmental Protection Agency to deny or defer California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates from earlier this year. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers support the federal fuel economy standards for 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. They’re fighting California’s legislation requiring automakers to sell 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles by 2025, which would start taking effect in 2018. Nine other states are expected to follow California’s example.

Here are some of the issues involved in the automaker’s petition:

1. The automaker industry groups aren’t saying they can’t build that many vehicle, but that they don’t believe customers will buy them.
2. The California mandate requires that 15.4% of new vehicles sold in California have zero tailpipe emissions by 2025, when the total number of ZEVs in California is expected to hit 1.4 million.
3. One of the biggest issues not being faced, according to auto industry groups, is the rapid pace of alternative fuel infrastructure development that would be necessary to meet the ZEV target.
4. Automakers such as General Motors, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are already selling or at least developing electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. But EPA granting the California waiver puts a huge burden on the automotive industry before the refueling infrastructure has had time to mature, the auto industry lobbying groups say.
5. The automaker alliance knows that EPA is not required to respond to the petition, but hopes it will revisit its decision.
6. Some environmental organizations see the automaker’s petition as the latest in a long series of attacks against efforts to improve fuel economy.