Automakers are undermining the progress they’re making in expanding the market for electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles by petitioning against California’s mandates, a state regulator said Tuesday.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency last month to block California’s requirement that 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles be sold by 2025.
“Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot…” Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said Tuesday at SAE International’s World Congress, an automotive engineering conference in Detroit. “Rather than rehashing the same, tired legal battles of our past, why not work together to collectively support and develop this market?”
California is requiring automakers to sell more than 1 million of the vehicles that generate little or no greenhouse- gas emissions through standards that are followed by more than a dozen states. The state last year established rising annual targets for zero-emission vehicles, toward a goal of reaching 15 percent of its new-car sales by 2025.
The state regulatory agency has pushed carmakers since the 1970s to sell cleaner vehicles to reduce air pollution, and has played a role in shaping automotive tailpipe standards for more than 50 years. Because of its severe smog pollution, California has retained the right to issue separate environmental standards for cars.
“Automakers hope that consumers will buy zero-emission vehicles in large volumes, but so far, sales have been lower than necessary to meet California’s aspirational goals,” Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, wrote in an email. “It serves no one, not the state economy or consumers or automakers, to have these vehicles sit unsold on dealer lots.”
California, the largest U.S. auto market, is requiring General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and Honda to sell a combined 60,000 plug-in, battery-electric and fuel-cell cars in the state through 2014.
By 2018, the state’s zero-emission vehicle rules will extend to Hyundai, Kia Motors, Daimler, Volkswagen, BMW and Mazda.
GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz are all members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The Association of Global Automakers, also based in Washington, counts Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia among its members. Annemarie Pender, a spokeswoman for the group, didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.