How Come Only California Gets The Newest EVs? −

100% Electric Vehicles

Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Christopher DeMorro


How Come Only California Gets The Newest EVs?

The California Air Resource Board has mandated that automakers produce a certain number of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), and 9 other states, most of them in the Northeast, have adopted those same standards. So why are there so many more electric and hydrogen vehicles for sale in California than the 9 other states that follow the same ZEV mandate?

fiat 500e ocean california

Even the 2016 Chevy Volt kicks off orders with California, and other vehicles, like the Toyota RAV4 EV, were never offered outside of the Golden State. What gives?

Green Car Reports did some digging and came across an obscure “travel provision” rule that allows any earned ZEV credits in any of these states to be counted towards the mandate in any of the other states. Since California is the biggest state out of all the states to follow these stricter mandates, automakers can simply sell enough ZEVs in the Golden State to meet their obligations in the other 9 states. This means California ZEV credits count towards the credit requirements in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

That’s one helluva loophole, and one that won’t be open for much longer. At the end of 2017, this exemption should close, meaning automakers will have to meet ZEV quotas in individual states, rather than just piling onto California. Hopefully this will open the door to more affordable EVs becoming more widely available, like the Fiat 500e and Chevy Spark EV. Sure, it might be a compliance car, but it’s a cheap compliance car, and one that would work for plenty of people.

I can’t help but wonder how much closer we may have gotten to Obama’s 500,000 1 million plug-in car goal if only this loophole didn’t exist.


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing -- otherwise, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Przemysław Lib

    Article is not so clear.

    EV sold in California counts as sold in other states?

    So car OEMs need to sell maximum of required sales from each state? Or sum of required sales, regardless of state in which sale take place?

    If its second, then not much more in terms of sales could be made. Those are compliance cars after all, car OEMs do not wont to sell them in quantities.

    • “EV sold in California counts as sold in other states?” -Yep.

      Sum of all required sales is what is needed, and could theoretically be 100% in California.

      I get your point. On the other hands, I think sales in California probably wouldn’t look hugely different, while sales in these other 9 states would like be much higher than they are.

      • Przemysław Lib

        Even if presence would be expanded, car OEMS did produce only so much cars.

        I agree that more people would inquire, but I do not think it would increase sales much in short term. And only slightly in longer perspective.

        But maybe it would be enough to push another OEM to sell nation wide.

        Just like KIA may do, as they see completely new customers who would not buy KIA ICE otherwise

        • Hmm, good points. Who knows? I do think it would have a positive effect.

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