Some Comments on the 2003 ZEV Ruling

This page begins with my letter to Chairman Lloyd regarding the March 2003 CARB ZEV hearing.  My letter is followed by Chariman Lloyd's response letter.   Below those two letters are select comments from "stakeholders" as we're called, who wrote some great stuff on our various EV forums.

From Darell Dickey 05.17.2003:
My letter to CARB after the 2003 Hearings, sent 05.17.2003.  Read below, or view it in WORD

Dr. Alan Lloyd, Chair
Air Resources Board
1001 I Street, 23rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Dr. Lloyd –

I own a Rav4EV, and for a few more months I am also an EV1 lessee. It excites me as much as it saddens me that in my garage are parked a significant percentage of all production battery electric vehicles ever produced.

I attended the California Air Resources Board hearing on March 27, 2003, and the follow-up meeting in April 2003. I did not testify in March because I found it intimidating and uncomfortable to attempt to make a compelling, valid point within the three-minute constraint that was imposed on public testimony. Like the rest of the concerned public in attendance -- but unlike the board members, the CARB staff, and the automotive lobbyists -- I was in attendance at these meetings at my own inconvenience and expense. The testimony from the paid auto industry lobbyists went mostly unchecked, while the testimony from those of us who were there for no financial gain was cut short almost without exception. This is not a reasonable way to balance public opinion with industry lobbying.

Here are some issues that I wanted to share with the CARB during testimony.

In your position as Chairman of the CARB, you have stated several times that it would be best to allow the automobile industry to decide what technology it would like to use to meet the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate. Their choice -- and yours -- is obvious: The hydrogen fuel cell. The industry that so desperately wants to continue building gasoline vehicles has now been allowed to choose which technology would be most effective in making gasoline vehicles obsolete.

The industry that just convinced the CARB that it foresees a viable market for astronomically expensive, inefficient, no-fueling-infrastructure FCVs is the same industry that views the efficient, easy-to-refuel BEVs as non-marketable. This is the same industry that claimed bankruptcy would be the only result of enforcement of the original CAFE standards. The same industry that claimed unleaded gasoline would put carmakers out of business. The same industry that insisted that airbags and catalytic converters would price vehicle out of consumers’ reach. An industry that has such a dismal track record of forecasting the viability and affordability of past solutions to pollution and safety concerns should not be counted on to pick the technology that will generate a mass-market ZEV.

I think we would all like to see FCV technology come down in price to that of current BEV technology. We would like to see FCVs demonstrate the simplicity and reliability of BEVs. We would like FCVs to have the range and convenient home refueling option of BEVs. We would like FCVs to have the performance of BEVs. We would like the availability of hydrogen fuel to match the ubiquitous electricity infrastructure. We would like to have hydrogen that is cost-competitive with electricity. We would like to have fuel cells that are as energy efficient as batteries. But we do not. And we will not for the foreseeable future. What we do have is low cost, simple, reliable, easy-and-cheap-to-fuel, high performance zero emission vehicles right now – and they run on batteries, not hydrogen.

By choosing FCVs as the Holy Grail of the undetermined future, we are forsaking BEV technology that is available today. Battery electrics are effective vehicles here and now, while the “hydrogen economy” may never happen. But CARB has now swept BEVs under the rug on the insistence of the auto industry that BEVs are “too expensive to build, and too difficult to refuel.” The auto industry has now convinced CARB that instead of building vehicles with a solid track record, it would be a better choice to pretend to want to build vehicles that are orders of magnitude more expensive, more complicated, and have in effect no fueling infrastructure. Allowing the auto industry to meet the ZEV mandate on their own terms is akin to allowing Ferrari owners to set the speed limits. We have had quick-charge technology for many years, and today we have high-density batteries. Why not just build the cheap, effective, desirable BEVs for which we have the technology today, instead of betting the future of air quality and oil dependence on something that is still so far out of reach?

The latest amendments to the ZEV mandate have resulted in the elimination of available ZEVs today. What went wrong? All production BEVs are now orphaned; all BEV production has stopped. How can the current amendments be considered “an effective path toward zero” if there are no ZEVs being produced for the public to drive? Many of us who replaced our gasoline vehicles with GM EV1s are now being forced to purchase another gasoline vehicle to replace the perfectly functional EV1s that are being taken out of service in California. We are going backwards, away from the goal of zero emissions. The auto industry could build BEVs when it thought it had to, but now the industry has found yet another perfect delay tactic: Promise a vehicle that appears “green,” is not expected to be in production for 10 or 20 years, and that will eventually be considered too expensive, too complicated, too inefficient and too difficult to refuel. Due to the latest amendments, the original and effective ZEV mandate that gave us our first and only ZEVs is today responsible for taking those same vehicles off the road. Those disappearing ZEVs are necessarily being replaced with gasoline-burning vehicles. I ask again: What went wrong?

Respectfully submitted,

Darell Dickey

Dr. William A. Burke
Joseph C. Calhoun
Dorene D'Adamo
Mark J. DeSaulnier
C. Hugh Friedman
William F. Friedman
Matthew R. McKinnon
Barbara Patrick
Barbara Riordan
Ron Roberts


Response from Chairman Lloyd sent 05.17.2003:

Dear Mr. Dickey:

Thank you for your letter expressing your concern regarding the public participation process during an Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) hearing and your disappointment with ARB’s decision to modify the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. Let me begin by saying that I appreciate your efforts to participate and your interest and support of battery electric ZEVs and I can understand your disappointment with the regulatory changes.

The ARB’s mission is to achieve health-based air quality standards for California. California remains committed to achieving health-based air quality standards through the reduction of emissions from motor vehicles to zero or near zero levels. In modifying the ZEV program, the Board’s objective was to maintain pressure on industry to continue to develop ZEVs, which include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell technology, while acknowledging the challenges associated with the performance and cost of existing ZEV technology.

The Board’s rationale for not maintaining a numerical requirement for battery electric ZEVs relates primarily to marketability and cost concerns. Even when produced in large quantities, advanced batteries are projected to cost between $7,000 to $9,000 each. The incremental cost severely restricts the market and prevents the large-scale commercialization of the technology.

You are correct in asserting that automakers have historically underestimated their ability to cost effectively implement vehicle emission requirements and safety technologies. However, stimulated by the competitive atmosphere that naturally exists between manufacturers of similar products, manufacturers have historically developed products that meet regulatory requirements and can be sold cost effectively. Unfortunately, at this time, no manufacturer has been able to economically mass-produce a full function battery electric vehicle.

While most attention has been centered on the production requirements for ZEVs, the large-sale commercialization of partial credit ZEVs (PZEVs) and advanced technology PZEVs (AT PZEVs), resulting from the ZEV regulation, will provide immediate and significant air quality benefits. Ten PZEV models have already been certified and staff expects that automakers will sell roughly 140,000 PZEVs this year. While PZEVs and AT PZEVs are not pure zero emission vehicles, their immediate availability and potential for large volume implementation will make a significant impact on our air quality improvement efforts. Additionally, mass-market introduction of AT PZEVs supports continued development of pure ZEV technologies.

As I already mentioned, I appreciate your willingness to dedicate the time and resources to participate in the public process of regulatory development. Input from the stakeholders is vital in developing regulations. Due to the large number of stakeholders choosing to testify in person, the amount of time allocated to each individual needed to be limited. I invite you to continue to participate in the regulatory process and ask that you consider submitting your testimony in writing in addition to publicly testifying at future hearings.

Again thank you for your interest and support of ZEVs in California. Please contact Mr. Robert H. Cross, Chief, Mobile Source Control Division, at (626) 575-6807 if you have additional comments, questions or need further assistance.

Alan C. Lloyd, Ph.D.

cc. Honorable Board Members

Robert H. Cross, Chief
Mobile Source Control Division

Comments from the "Stakeholders"

From Kim Rogers 05.05.2003:

The original intent of the 1990 ZEV mandate was to put ZEVs ON THE ROAD. By constantly waiting for the next technology, we have added unnecessary delay in getting a significant number of ZEVs on the road -- in fact we now have ZEVs leaving the road!

The history of the auto industry is to stall, then propose a technology that is in the future, as the future nears, abandon it in favor of yet another future technology that is years away. If the technology is really here, then the auto industry lies about it (safety, catalytic converters, higher MPG capabilities, BEVs, etc.) by denying it exists, create prototypes to purposely fail or underperform (remember the Delco batteries in the first EV1s?), say that the costs are just too high, or file lawsuits. The purpose, of course, is to set the agenda so that the goal is never achievable. You might even want to point out to CARB the link that Patty found ( -- which proves that there has been an active and very well funded campaign to stall/stop the ZEV mandate.

The critical importance of this "delay" is that the mix of vehicles and the ever increasing VMT (vehicle miles traveled) will make air quality worse. A large percentage of new vehicles purchased are poor emissions, very poor MPG light trucks/SUVs. Considering a vehicle lifespan of 10-20 years, we have a big problem that will not be solved with a very few experimental FCVs (or any small number of ZEVs for that matter). Besides the very arguments to kill off BEVs (too expensive, etc.) will be used by the end of the decade to at least postpone volume in FCVs. In fact Toyota touts their FCV, they call it a Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (or FCHV) -- fuel cell and batteries. The primary reason that BEVs are being abandoned is due to high cost of batteries, so are FCHVs doomed as well? CARB is still depending on a miracle to drive the costs of FCVs down. Auto makers claim FCVs are $1 Million per vehicle (today). I still don't know how the cost magically goes down in 2011.

Besides, based upon the EPRI Battery Report, those advanced batteries that everyone said we needed (100+ mile range, long life) have been on the market since about 1997 (in the RAV4-EV)! And if we want 200+ range, lithium batteries should be EV ready by the end of this decade.

One of the key themes to many of the presentations and in most of the CARB reports, is that increased volume will drive prices down. However, CARB actions consistently reduce volumes required, thus ensuring that prices will remain high.

I also think that, as shown by the Toyota Rav4EV sales report, the auto industry has never explained the actual demand and waiting lists for vehicles. Toyota should be called to account for the glaring inaccuracies (okay lies) in their presentation: marketing was a joke, shipments were only constrained by supply (not demand), Prius sales increased rapidly when they finally abandoned the Internet sales (constraint).

CARB keeps stating that it is technology neutral. That sure doesn't explain the 40:1 ratio of FCV to BEV -- thus ensuring that the auto industry will only produce a very small number of FCVs.

Dear Dr. Lloyd,

Those of us who know the most about battery electric vehicles smell something fishy. There is no imaginable way that anyone who knows about the technology, the economics, the market potential, and the environmental impact of various vehicle propulsion schemes can be convinced that BEVs should be dropped to the low-priority status that CARB has engineered for them. The only theory that anyone with this kind of sense can conjure up to explain CARB's methods and actions is that politics was involved. By politics, I mean fishy politics--influence-buying, the old boys syndrome, compromise giving way to appeasement, unprincipled defenders caving in to a propaganda blitz, etc.

You, the leader of a board paid by the taxpayers to serve us, had better have a good explanation for the board's seemingly irresponsible actions, because there are a lot of knowledgeable people out here who become very angry when counterproductive decisions are made on the basis of politics or stupidity--especially when these people have been intentionally ignored in the hearings.* The repercussions can be more than you or anyone else may have imagined.

What are the arguments that could possibly lead to the near abandonment of BEVs in favor of a fuel cell pipe dream that cannot possibly match BEVs in overall efficiency (including upstream), overall cleanliness (including upstream), simplicity, and available infrastructure? Even in terms of cost, BEVs appear to have the advantage. The only argument that could make sense is the perceived lack of a market based on range and charging rate limitations. We who have driven the EV1 are acutely aware, however, that the market for GM's EV1s, even with the original 60 miles of range, was set to grow at 300% per year. This is good growth by any business model! Every one of us who leased an EV1 was meeting at least three more people per year who were ready to lease or purchase one, but who were discouraged by the lack of availability. And now, with the range more than doubled due to improving battery technology, and with the prospect of another doubling when lithium batteries become available, and with the price of gasoline having risen, the market is bound to grow only faster. Moreover, a fast charging capability (under 15 minutes for a nearly full charge) has been demonstrated that can be developed and deployed where needed (on highways) for much less than what it takes to develop and deploy FCVs and the extensive hydrogen infrastructure they require. So what in the world could have caused CARB to make the decisions that it has? What are we going to find when we conduct our investigation? What news will we have to tell the rest of the taxpayers?

From Kim Rogers 05.08.2003:

We are all very frustrated that the auto industry (and oil industry) have consistently in their dirty past used the panacea or holy grail of a future technology to postpone, avoid, or permanently kill any innovation that would help now! Since that would slow the development of THE ANSWER.

We all fear that even the $billions of investment from the federal gov't (with no specific deliverable defined) will drizzle away while the auto industry continues to make low MPG vehicles that have poor emissions -- since that's what they make profits on today. The history of the auto industry is one that shows a consistent disregard for public good (controlling smog, safety, etc.), and an incredibly short-term view of profits for today.

We are equally suspicious because we've heard similar things about EVs, and how the auto makers said we'd all be driving them, and soon. Then when demand for the EVs were shown (and we finally got ours), production was stopped -- waiting for the "perfect" battery. I guess to state things simply, we've been burned by their promises in the past. There is no "perfect" technology!

We also know that the extraction of hydrogen today consumes a lot of energy. Energy that is too often NOT from renewable sources. When we see the federal gov't touting all the energy sources, and highlighting "clean coal" as an integral part of the story, we get very concerned.

Even the President has proudly stated that fuel cell vehicles will be the vehicles for our grandchildren. We simply cannot wait that long! We need a comprehensive energy policy in this country that moves us from fossil fuels (many of which come from unstable foreign sources), into renewable sources -- for stationary and mobile uses. Without renewable sources, the "hydrogen economy" will fail.

Further, the primary reason that the industry and CARB have given up on EVs is the high cost of the vehicles, primarily due to batteries. Never mind that NiMH battery vendors are tied up in lawsuits with the owners of the patents (oil industry), or that there is significant progress in battery technology (Lithium-Ion) to dramatically increase range. And never mind that a typical day's travel is easily accomplished with TODAY's batteries!

If you closely read the CARB report, a miracle happens in about 2010 that brings the cost of a fuel cell vehicle down from $millions/vehicle to "comparable" with today's vehicles. This seems contrary to most other information that states commercially available fuel cell vehicles are 15-20 years away (or that they have been 10-15 years away for the past 5-7 years). CARB states publicly that their regulations are technology neutral, but offer sufficient credits for fuel cell prototypes (40:1) -- not cars to the public -- to effectively discourage development of any other technology. The intent of the original ZEV mandate was to get a small number (10%) of zero emissions vehicles, on the road by 2003 -- not a couple hundred prototypes by 2009!

We all know that the price of vehicles (EVs, too) would go down if they were produced in high volume, rather than "by hand". We fear that, again based upon past behavior, that the auto industry will return to CARB in 2006-2008 and proclaim that fuel cell vehicles are just too hard, too expensive, and they need more time (just like in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003 for ZEVs). If CARB doesn't cave, CARB will again be sued by the industry.

We believe that a variety of vehicles will be necessary to meet a clean vehicle future. But we see that this future can start today with EVs, while we wait for fuel cell vehicles (or other future technology). There are a variety of needs for vehicles -- short haul, commute, medium-range, and long-haul; sizes of small, medium, large, trucks. There is no single vehicle that solves all mobility needs. We see that today's two car households can displace one dirty vehicle with a zero emissions vehicle (EV), and have another car for those less frequent longer trips (perhaps a hybrid; in the future something even cleaner). This is available now. Today's EVs cannot go 200+ miles, but that is possible by the end of this decade (or sooner), and it can refuel at home while we sleep. But remember that the 100+ mile range of today's EVs meets the needs of a huge portion of the car market -- 80% of Californians travel 40 miles or less in a single day.

The image of vehicles presented to the consumer by the auto industry are ones that can drive over glaciers, climb up mountains, and through streams. However, the typical suburban and urban driver simply needs a vehicle that can drive over an occasional speed bump and across pot holes without rolling over. We go to the mall and to work! We need to educate people to choose a vehicle for it's real purpose -- getting us from point A to point B on PAVED roads.

And finally, we all dread the day when we must trek to the "fueling station" rather than just start each day "full", like we do with our EVs. Although this is probably one of the reasons that fuel cell vehicles will eventually succeed -- keeping us tethered to another industry for refueling, rather than at-home refueling.

So the bottom line is that we are very distrustful of the messengers (auto & oil industry). They have spent $millions in misinformation campaigns to kill the ZEV mandate, clean technology that can be deployed today, and to over simplify the real issues that remain before a fuel cell solution (vehicle & infrastructure) will be ready for the masses. Not to mention, that they seem to have more lawyers than engineers -- to find loopholes in regulations, rather than engineer solutions. So, we rant and rave a little here to release this frustration...

Having said all that, I hope I'm wrong. I hope we can trust industry to come through; I hope that fuel cell vehicles & infrastructure will come through faster than the experts predict. After all, thanks to CARB we now have "all our eggs into one basket" and if that basket fails, it will (literally) be a dark and gloomy day....and "I told you so" will not give us any pleasure when we can't see the person we're talking to through the haze of smog....Meanwhile I'll continue to drive my EV, continue to lead by example and EVangelize clean vehicles for TODAY, and continue to wonder how to answer the question I get from hundreds of people who see my car and ask "Where can I get one, too?"

From Sam Thurber 05.08.2003:

When you are comparing the energy density of Hydrogen to batteries you have to include the storage system and fuel cell stack since those are "included" in a battery. When that volume and weight are taken into consideration, hydrogen's advantages vaporize quicker than hydrogen itself. The storage problem is huge since the most stable way to store it is in Metal Hydride and your energy density becomes about that of, well a NiMH battery. After all that battery can be thought of as a hydrogen fuel cell that can regenerate it's own hydrogen, store it in a hydride metal, and react it without any precious metals. Isn't that what the fuel cell people are looking for? I strongly disagree that batteries will never match mature hydrogen fuel cell for range. That assumes that "miracle" technological breakthroughs in storage and fuel cell stack technology will happen, but no breakthrough in battery design will happen. Given the progress in batteries in the past twenty years, compared to the progress in hydrogen fuel cells in the past twenty years, I would bet on battery technology.

From Jeff Church 05.14.2003:

At the heart of every Fuel Cell Vehicle is a Pure Electric Vehicle, who's technology is fairly perfected today. To transform this to a Fuel Cell Vehicle, you essentially remove a large portion of the battery capacity, and add a Fuel Cell and a Hydrogen storage unit. The Pure Electric Vehicle portion of the FCV, with full batteries, (Also known as a Full Function Electric Vehicle or FFEV) is an excellent means of transportation which is cost effective NOW, attains sufficient range NOW and should continue to be perfected by mass production and widespread use while the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen storage/infrastructure technologies (which are in their infancy) are developed. This will provide us with the best Zero Emission Vehicles available both now, far better Fuel Cell Vehicles in the future, and enable these clean technologies to be utilized by more people.

From Kim Rogers 05.15.2003

In viewing battery cost, we could use the CARB figures that are too high and show ZERO improvement over a 10-15 year period, while at the same time CARB shows a miracle that puts FCV costs as slightly higher than ICE by 2011 ;-)....but seriously...

The key problem, is that the auto industry has been allowed to set the "measures for success" -- initial price parity and range to be equal to an ICE. With actions, such as CARB's, ensuring no volume production, the price will never match....unless you look at life cycle costs of the vehicles. In the 1990s the auto industry defined the battery range required to be 250 miles, far longer than the early lead acid batteries at that time. We should also note that FCVs are much farther from the "measures for success" than today's BEV technology, and the BEV technology for the next 10 years.

As proof of life-cycle cost comparibility review the EPRI "Advanced Batteries for Electric Drive Vehicles" Version 16 March 25, 2003. States that electric drive vehicles can achieve life-cycle cost parity with conventional gasoline vehicles -- assuming $1.75/gallon for gasoline, and a minimum production volume of 100,000. One of the key factors is the significantly longer life span of the battery pack -- only requiring one pack for the vehicle life (lifetime of pack in a RAV4-EV is predicted to be 150K miles) rather than 2 or more. However, the report does not show the break out price/kWh for NiMH batteries to compare to the costs to the Lithium battery manufacturers' report at CARB hearings.

What we can show is that initial price, range, and energy efficiency of BEVs are all SIGNIFICANTLY better than FCVs -- everyone agrees that EVs have an energy efficiency of about 4x that of a FCV. Today BEVs even have an advantage in terms of range over FCVs. The only counter from the industry is to "wait, FCVs are getting better". The so-called industry experts complain that battery technology is only showing "incremental" improvements. What they fail to mention is that when you have already achieved 120 mile range, you only NEED incremental improvements -- you no longer need the "orders of magnitude" improvement that you do with less mature technology. We need to quote todays figures of BEVs vs todays figures for FCVs to show how viable BEV technology is being abandoned for something that has yet to be proven.

People always quote the industry PR of "no significant" battery improvements, and the "phenomenal advances" in FC technology.....Now FCVs can go 60-80 miles and only cost $1Million....Be careful of the range of FCV, with multiple high pressure tanks they can get up to 180 mile range (claimed by Toyota for the FCHV). Then again, that just reinforces the HUGE problem with lack of H2 infrastructure -- even for the FC rally in the Valley the caravan is followed by large (diesel) tanker truck to carry enough H2 to make it from Sacramento to LA.

So we can show that BEVs make sense NOW, and besides the "EV" in a BEV is the core technology inside a FCV. The auto industry simply ignores market research and consumer surveys that show how deep the desire is to have a vehicle capable of by-passing the gas station and fueling at home. And the auto industry is looking for a single monolithic "answer" rather than adopt a heterogeneous approach to transportation (HEV, BEV, and someday even FCV to replace ICE).  Also I'm not sure where the data is to back up the "10 minute fast charging" -- we need to be able to cite references for that.  Actually one of the key issues with the CARB decision, they are giving up on real, but small ZEV volume (10% ZEVs by 2003) that would establish/strengthen the market, for 250 fuel cell "demo" vehicles by 2008 that don't even have to be deployed in CA, and certainly can't establish a market with such a low number! A key message in many of the March 2003 CARB presentations was the need for volume to drive the prices down, with such a significant backslide, we will never achieve this. We need to solve pollution problems today, not for our grandchildren.
As a side note, I looked at Dr Menahem Anderman's Total Battery Consulting company (he's the author of the official CARB battery report)....I think he's a classic example of industry expert, not independent expert. To quote from the web site "He can assist your legal team in the following areas: ....Find additional significant documents and information to strengthen your case". and if we look at his client list it's a who's who of corporate interests including auto & oil industries).

From Samuel Thurber 06.01.2003

John O'Dell wrote, "Fuel cell and hybrid vehicles do not need the large racks of rechargeable storage batteries that battery-electric cars depend on and that automakers say are impractical and too expensive." Well that may be true but maybe we should also mention in passing what the fuel cell cars need instead. It is a hydrogen fuel cell stack, made with platinum, and it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. They also need an almost equally expensive and complex on-board hydrogen storage system. Even the hydrogen is ridiculously expensive. It costs the equivalent of gas at $5/gallon and that's only if it comes from fossil fuels like natural gas that could have been used directly in a much cheaper and more simple natural gas car. If you want to use zero emission hydrogen from renewables like solar or wind power, it will cost you significantly more, in the ballpark of $20 per gallon of gas equivalent. And that's the tip of the iceberg. Start asking how much the hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure is going to cost and you'll get a real idea of just how expensive these cars are. A $20,000 hand built lithium battery pack with a 400 mile range for an EV1 starts to sound like chump change. Anybody out there want a million dollar fuel cell car that costs $100/tank and was only going about 60 miles between fillups on the recent "Rally through the Valley" fuel cell exposition? Don't you all speak up at once now.

The state should be vigorously defending itself against GM, the company that has been promising fuel cell cars in "ten years" since its 1966 Electrovan. In fact we should be suing them for fouling our air with ever bigger and more grotesque cars like the Hummer H2.

Almost every expert in the field who is not directly involved in this taxpayer financed hydrogen fiasco, or it's public relations machine, is saying it's not going to work. However, Allen Lloyd, the chairman of CARB (also happens to be directly involved with the California Fuel Cell Partnership which sounds like a conflict of interest to me), has sold us out by catering to companies like GM and Chrysler that could care less if the air in California is breathable. Shame on him, shame on CARB, and shame on Gov. Davis who allow men like this to continue serving at his pleasure.

From Kimberly Rogers 03.02.2003

Where are the Zero Emission Vehicles?

In 1990, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) did a remarkable thing. Recognizing that vehicles account for the vast majority of air pollution, and that millions of Californians live in areas where the air is unhealthy; CARB established the landmark Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate - requiring 10% of California's vehicles to be ZEVs by 2003. At that time, the major auto makers were championing technology that could easily meet the ZEV requirement - battery electric vehicles (EVs).

So what happened? It's now 2003 and there are only a few thousand ZEVs on the road, and none are available to the public from the major auto makers. Only a few hundred were ever made available to the public - most were hidden away in fleets. Each EV built was immediately sold or leased. But the auto makers never did build sufficient quantities to satisfy demand, which meant
long waiting lists for each EV. Now many of these EVs are permanently leaving California's roads because the auto makers (GM EV-1 and Honda EV+) will not renew the leases for these EVs, nor sell them "as is" (without warranty) to the current leasee.

Why are we losing ground? The auto industry has been successful in undermining the original ZEV requirements - through intense lobbying of CARB and filing lawsuits to stop the enforcement of the ZEV mandate. In 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and again this year (2003), the requirements have been watered down. Now the mandate is too weak to reduce air pollution. Remember, reducing air pollution was the reason for the ZEV mandate in the first place!

At the most recent CARB meeting in April 2003, the board approved amendments to drastically reduce the number of ZEVs to 250 by 2008. So we went from 10% ZEVs (or about 100,000 vehicles) in 2003, to only 250 by 2008! CARB approved this after two days of public hearings (March 2003), where the vast majority of the speakers called for CARB to reject those amendments. CARB did not even accept a modest proposal to increase the requirement to 500 ZEVs by 2008. (The stated reason for rejecting this was that it would place too much of a burden on the auto makers!) Further dilution was created by allowing ZEVs that are fuel cell vehicles (FCV) to be deployed in any state that adopts California's rules (New York or Massachusetts) and still receive "credit" in California! It's still unbelievable to me that CARB (the "C" in CARB is supposed to stand for "California") grants credits for ZEVs deployed in other states.

The typical lifespan of a vehicle on the road is 10-20 years (and the emissions control systems become less effective as the vehicle ages). That's why it was so critically important to begin deploying ZEVs by 2003. Today instead of ZEVs, nearly 50% of new vehicles sold are classified as trucks (SUVs), which have significantly weaker emissions requirements than passenger cars (also weaker safety and fuel economy standards). Most experts believe that FCVs will not be commercially viable for 10-20 years - there
are significant issues with this new technology and infrastructure to support hydrogen refueling. The Natural Resources Defense Council predicts "it will be 20-30 years before enough FCVs might replace enough regular cars to make a dent in the U.S. oil demand". We can't wait that long for FCVs to also make a dent in air pollution (assuming that the hydrogen to power FCVs is generated with renewable energy sources and not coal which is advocated by the federal government).

I believe that we need a variety of ZEVs and other cleaner vehicles on the road today (including EVs, hybrids, and compressed natural gas vehicles) while we wait for FCVs or other future technology. I'm frustrated by CARB's actions. They were supposed to represent the people of California and our fight against air pollution, acting as a counter balance to industry goals (profit at the expense of air quality). Now, thanks to the weak stance that CARB has taken, it will be decades before we turn the tide against air pollution.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to drive my EV, continue to lead by example and EVangelize clean vehicles for today (instead of technology promises for tomorrow). But I'm stumped for an answer to the question I get from hundreds of people who see my car and ask "Where can I get one, too?" Perhaps I should direct that question to CARB, "It's now 2003, where are the ZEVs you promised us?"

From Ed Stoneham 08.11.2003:

Dear members of the Air Resources Board,

As further comment on the recent rulings of the ARB, please consider the following.

I am a somewhat conservative Republican and do not share in all of the reasons that some other EV enthusiasts propound for urging a tougher ZEV requirement. I do, however, share in the assertion that the ARB should not be backing down on battery electric ZEVs. From this you should learn that support for battery electrics is broad-based. Likewise, Californians' disenchantment with Gov. Davis's self-serving decision-making is broad-based, as you are beginning to see. Change is in the wind. Whatever you have been doing under Gov. Davis's influence you would best begin to undo.

You have the power to get the large auto makers to help us introduce the one technology that can really make a difference--BEVs. Alternatively, if the large auto companies are likely to fight the effort all the way along, you have the power to provide enough assistance to startups like AC Propulsion or to possibly willing competitors like Hyundai to enable them to eat the the more uncooperative companies' lunches. You might be sued for regulating, but you are less likely to be sued for assisting. As a first step in this latter direction, you can do a quick study to find out how much in tax money is going into subsidies of various types for the oil industry and the existing auto industry. You can then require that the state match these subsidies dollar-for-dollar with subsidies to the electric car industry. If there is a fixed pie, the state can split it.

The only question is this: does ARB have the power to regulate state government activities that affect pollution, or is ARB constrained to regulate only private industry? If the latter is the case, please let me know, and I will see if we can propose a statewide initiative that will turn this around. Like a rapidly growing number of people in the state, I would much prefer to see the state regulating itself than regulating us.

AC Propulsion Post Mandate Perspective (pdf)

From Doug Korthof and Lisa Rosen 01.28.2007

With Dr. Sawyer as the new Chair, it's a new Air Board, with a new air of civility.

Two EV advocates spoke during two opportunities: First, on the Governor's "Action Plan", which envisages a 10% reduction in something from some measure by 2010, 20% by 2020 (getting the idea here that the numbers are leading us?) and 80% by 2080 (oops, meant "2050"). Anyway, a paper-airplane that we could call "bold", and, if taken seriously, means that some real action needs to be taken right now.

Unfortunately, oil consumption, if not miles driven, is still on the rise, so we're still moving in the wrong direction.

Hence, the first speaker reminded them that the only way to make a real difference in air quality is to deal with "mobile source" emissions (ARB's cute way of saying cars, buses and trucks). To do this, we need to harken back to the foresight of the 1990 ARB Board, which created the original ZEV mandate.

The original ZEV mandate called for a 10% reduction in something-or- other by 2003, but when 2003 came around, they just postponed implementation until Fuel Cells could be as common as rasperries in May. Perhaps 2018? or 2025? In any case, fuel cells won't help meet the Governor's new "Action Plan" targets. That's OK for him, because the Governor will be out-of-office in 2010. Still, if they could find a way, they need to get started now.

It is important to note that the ZEV mandate was NOT killed in 2003, it was only the BATTERY EV component that was killed by ARB allowing an "alternative path" to compliance via "back-ended" (meaning, never- never-land) production of fuel cell cars...and the killing of the Electric car. But that back-ended requirement is coming due pretty soon, and car companies, which proposed it as a scam, are getting pretty worried that they might have to actually produce a couple hundred fuel cell cars at a cost of up to a billion wasted dollars. Not to mention the terror of having to make 2,500 of them, or 25,000 FCV at a minimal cost of $500K each...even if the batteries are beefed up, like the Ford Fracas.

Here are the numbers for what Car Makers would have to do, how many fuel cell cars they would have to produce, if held to it (some numbers may vary):

BY 2008: 250 Fuel Cell Vehicles (only 93 are on the road now in CA, and ARB is keeping numbers by manufacturer secret. PRR needed!)
BY 2011: 2,500 FCV. GM's nightmare.
BY 2014: 25,000 FCV. Even worse.
BY 2017: 50,000 FCV. Don't even think of it.
BY 2018: 16% of sales are FCV.

So if the auto makers go back to battery EVs, barring just postponing ZEV indefinitely, the whole thing about confiscating and crushing the EVs would have been in vain, just a ploy to postpone things until now. But this game is going to be called, IF WE INSIST, forcing GM to find an out. Hopefully, plug-in serial hybrid EVs.

And GM's vision of the Chevrolet VOLT, phony as it is, provides a pathway for ARB to claim they are doing something before 2010.

ARB, if properly requested, will move forward the ZEV requirements, allowing GM (and others) to meet them by plug-in serial hybrids using well-proven NiMH batteries.

Back in 2000, the ARB Battery Technology Workshop removed the high cost of the batteries as an objection to EV cost, because the NiMH batteries, back then, were economical and lasted longer than the life of the car. At a retail price of $1000 per module, about 3 times wholesale cost, the $25,000 pack would amortize at 12 cents per mile driven even if it only lasted for 200K miles and not counting the substantial recycling value of recovering the Nickel metal component of the NiMH batteries.

We were also able to speak at the end of the meeting, during "public comment", which was pretty dull as most of the staff and spectators had left. Lisa did well, but I tended to ramble a bit.

However, we were able to speak with important staff such as Analisa Bevan, new Chief of the Sustainable Transportation Technology Branch ("Hydrogen Highway", but also CNG and BEVs), as well as some of the Commissioners.

Some of those who voted to kill the Electric car are still on the Board, and there are many vacancies. Only Commissioner D'Adamo, of the original 3 (D'Adamo, McKinnon and DeSaulnier) who voted for EVs, is still on the Board, but there are two new good members.

There is a "Youth Hostel" across from ARB where those visiting ARB can stay very conveniently, and SPI as well as AVCON charging on the second and seventh floor of the next-block parking structure.

Next ARB meeting is Feb. 22, it would be excellent if many EV folks were present. The ARB Technology Assessment panel is expected to report in Feb. to staff, which will, if appropriate, advise the Board as early as May about any changes that might be advisable in the ZEV mandate.

We want ARB to reiterate that NiMH batteries are a path to compliance, if installed in serial plug-in hybrids, and we want to HELP GM meet its ZEV requirements by early introduction of the VOLT.

Lisa made the important point that ZEV should be simplified, and that all clean cars should be SOLD, not leased. This lease business creates "boomerang cars" that the auto tyrants can take away, as if they still want to cling to control. Here's Lisa's speech at the end of this very long day:

-------- From Lisa -------------------------
"I was an EV skeptic who became an advocate by driving them. My problem wasn't range or battery-performance – it was that Honda, GM and Ford took our vehicles. There was a brief reprieve when Toyota sold a few. All told, our family has driven production electric vehicles 470,000 miles since 1997. Except for the first 1997 EV1, the batteries were all Nickel-Metal-Hydride and were fine.

"I hope that all future programs require that the vehicles be sold.

"Spikes in gas prices finally got more people to think about the future of gasoline. Our solar customers are almost unanimous in wanting to install solar to offset future energy use of a plug-in car they hope to buy. This could really help lower-income citizens afford solar power. This trend in consumer thinking suggests that the time has come to reconsider the place of the gas plug-in hybrid on the path to Zero Emissions.

"The present plan allowed for postponed compliance to enable Hydrogen and fuel cell research. Several years into this, it appears that the research will not result in cost-effective transportation anytime soon. Despite much public outcry about the cost of research and development of the electric car, I have noted no similar omplaints regarding the expense of fuel cell research.

"Recent GM announcements about the VOLT offer another opportunity to improve results of the ZEV mandate. GM indicated that the main obstacle to production is batttery technology. GM proposes research into Lithium batteries. This may add little to real-world asssessments of Lithium and the findings of ARB Battery Group. Existing NIMH and even lead batteries have been produced capable of a range up to 100 miles, more than the required 40 mile range for the VOLT.

"The track record so far indicates that further progress in unlikely without regulatory action. The auto industry resents but has ultimately befenfitted from environmental oversight.

"We don't have to wait until 2012. With the right combination of incentives and credits, production could occur sooner. What is needed is for ARB to allow plug-in hybrid Evs to comprise a significantly larger percentage of the ZEV requirement.

"Please make the requirements as simple as possible, it is essential to get the program out of the stratosphere of theory and into the atmosphere of reality."

Click for
EVnut.com_home page