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.