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?
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.