Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Jul 07

Chevy Volt is not NYC compatible, says NY Daily News writer


The extended-range Chevy Volt is a great solution for those who want to drive all-electric, while having gas back-up – unless their living situation is like that of so many New Yorkers.


Or, so says Gersh Kuntzman who drives the point home as he drives the Volt around the city staging extension-cord-dragging scenes and desperate pleas with ungracious strangers dismissing him with bleeped expletives.

For all intents and purposes, Kuntzman could have had a Cruze considering how little electricity his foraging exercise was able to garner in many of the situations featured. His point could just as well have been made for any EV, like a Leaf, or i3, or you name it, though he did manage to find a Tesla wall charger.

In any event, his point is likely valid for too many dwellers in places where guaranteed parking spots are not available.

“If you’re lucky enough to get the spot in front of your house or building, you might be able to drag extension cords across the sidewalk, but you’ll be subject to a ticket for the obstruction,” writes Kuntzman. “And if you try to “fill up” your electron tank at a public garage or freestanding charging stations that are popping up all over, you’ll sometimes need eight to 14 hours for a complete top-off. There are some faster charging poles around (good luck finding them!), but even they require four hours. What am I supposed to do during that time? And in the few neighborhoods that have them?”

What’s a New Yorker to do?

Kuntzman did not offer commentary from New York officials or anyone else on what, if anything is planned, as a solution – if there is to be one any time soon, that is.

NY Daily News


Jul 06

7 States With the Best Green Car Incentives



Here’s a trick question: How much will you have to pay for a new Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Fusion Energi, Tesla, or some other plug-in electrified vehicle?

If you live in the U.S., the answer is it all depends on the state in which you live and/or register the car.

Aside from a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit depending on the vehicle’s battery size, people buying or leasing may also benefit from a menu of state incentives, most notably a cash rebate or tax credit, on top of the federal allotment.

State-level perks are made available under qualified terms to compensate for the extra expense associated with plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and in cases hydrogen fuel cell and other alternative fuel vehicles. Like your fuel mileage, state-offered dollar amounts do vary – from very generous down to zero.

Looking at a Chevy Volt (pictured top) as an example, the purchase amount before options could be as much as the $33,995 base selling price to as low as around $22,000 depending on where you live and your tax filing status. This is before any dealer discounts and other potential state or local perks, including additional financial benefits under state programs.

As a point of comparison, the best-selling Toyota Prius – ineligible for federal or state purchase incentives – starts at $25,035.

Why the variance for the plug-in? The discretion to offer these perks is up to the individual states, and you can see this in a couple of different ways. If you are eligible for a state rebate or credit, it’s tantamount to a windfall gain, though you will likely have forms to fill in, and typically will need to front the money you expect to get back.

If your state does not offer a meaningful financial green car incentive, while it would have been nice to receive, and may even feel unfair that your state offers nothing (or less than another state), bottom line is the state does not owe people free money.

Most states are willing to offer some form of monetary incentives, however, and their willingness to temporarily deprive the tax base is also to meet their goals of transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner air.


For the past half decade this has been the reality and the state-by-state incentives have been taken advantage of by many of the people who’ve purchased the almost half a million PEVs that are now on American roads.

SEE ALSO: Does The $7,500 Plug-In Car Tax Credit Need Reform?

Unlike the federal rules, the state-level perks are periodically reviewed, changed, and some programs have limits and finite funds, so it is better to investigate and if possible, get while the getting is good.

To give you an up-to-the minute update, with help from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and with data collected by the U.S. Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC), our list follows.

Notable is the country’s dominant PEV-consuming state, California, has for now suspended its alternative fuel vehicle rebate program putting applicants on a waiting list while budgetary issues are worked out. It would have made the list, but we’ll link its most-extensive list of benefits, many of which are still active. Similarly, Illinois’ state plan is also suspended, but its generous allotment would have ranked second.

States are ranked by maximum dollar amount for their alternative vehicle credit, but within each this may be less, depending on which qualifying vehicle you purchase, or other provisions of the individual programs.

7 Rhode Island – $2,500

Rhode Island is one of the “tri-state” region of New England states that are patterning off each other to put more PEVs on the road. Surveys have shown many residents are unaware of the existence of programs that could help offset their costs. Consider this your notice: FREE MONEY.

The Ford Fusion Energi, like its C-Max sibling, offers 19 miles EV range and high mpg in a package comparable to versions with conventional or regular hybrid powertrains in Ford’s popular midsized sedan line. Because of its smaller 7.6-kWh battery, it does not qualify for the highest dollar allotments in state or federal programs.

The Ford Fusion Energi, like its C-Max sibling, offers 19 miles EV range and high mpg in a package comparable to versions with conventional or regular hybrid powertrains in Ford’s popular midsized sedan line. Because of its smaller 7.6-kWh battery, it does not qualify for the highest dollar allotments in state or federal programs.

The state offers for its residents the Driving Rhode Island to Vehicle Electrification rebate program with rebates of up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of qualified plug-in electrified vehicles.

These, like the federal tax credit, do vary by battery size, and and more can be learned at the AFDC, or Rhode Island’s site.

6. Massachusetts – $2,500

Massachusetts is another of the “tri-state” states where advocates are working to see automakers send more cars, and to also get more dealers enthusiastic about stocking and selling them. To help, this state also is willing to help close the deal.

Toyota’s Mirai FCV is not available yet outside a limited market in California, but states are preparing for it and other FCVs. Toyota says the Northeast corridor from New England states down to New Jersey is next to get it.

Toyota’s Mirai FCV is not available yet outside a limited market in California, but states are preparing for it and other FCVs. Toyota says the Northeast corridor from New England states down to New Jersey is next to get it.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has a program called Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) offering rebates of up to $2,500 to customers purchasing PEVs.

Massachusetts also has for local governments, public universities and colleges, and state agencies its Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP). Not for indiviual consumers, these do offer grants to purchase or lease qualified PEVs, zero emission electric motorcycles (ZEMs), and Level 2 EVSE. Up to $7,500 in grants is available to purchase or lease a PEV, up to $13,500 is available to purchase or lease a Level 2 EVSE, and up to $750 is offered to purchase or lease a ZEM.

Other state incentives can be seen at AFDC or state website.

5. Georgia – $2,500

During its best sales year of 2014, Nissan was reporting the Atlanta region as one where all of a sudden many residents decided the Leaf was a great idea. No, it wasn’t the TV ad where the polar bear hugged the Leaf buyer in his driveway that captured their attention, it was because of now-reduced perks that added to $5,000 or more which made the value proposition hard to resist.

The Nissan Leaf, launched December 2010, is the world’s best selling PEV with more than 220,000 sold. Lease deals make it still a wise acquisition, and alternatively used examples (not credit eligible) are attractively priced.

The Nissan Leaf, launched December 2010, is the world’s best selling PEV with more than 220,000 sold. Lease deals make it still a wise acquisition, and alternatively used examples (not credit eligible) are attractively priced.

The state still has a number of incentives, including an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit for individuals who purchase or lease a new dedicated AFV or convert a vehicle to operate solely on alternative fuel. This tax credit is for up to 10 percent of the vehicle cost, or up to $2,500.

Potentially better than sweet tea is another income tax credit for charging the vehicle, called the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Tax Credit. This also provides up to 10 percent of the electric vehicle charging equipment, or up to $2,500.

Beyond these are other incentives from Georgia Power, an HOV lane exemption permitting solo access, and more can be learned at the AFDC, or Georgia’s own website.

4. Maryland – $3,000

Maryland is known for crab dishes, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, among other things, and with up to $3,000 in PEV incentives, it can also be known as one of the better incentive-offering states in the country. The PEV incentive allotted by battery size is however adjusted so that cars like the largest battery plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt do not receive the maximum dollar amount (it’s eligible for $2,300). Other states do give their maximum credit for the Volt, as does the federal government, but in Maryland battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, others, and of course Teslas will get more of the incentive.

Diving into the details a bit, in addition to an HOV solo lane exemption for qualified alternative fueled vehicles the state offers a plug-in car tax credit. Effective July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2017, H.B. 1345 and S.B. 908 (2014) replace the existing tax credit of up to $1,000 with a tax credit equal to $125 times the number of kilowatt-hours of battery capacity of the vehicle, or up to $3,000. That just qualifies the 24-kWH Nissan Leaf for the whole enchilada (or whole crab cake, you choose).

Further, The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) offers an income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost of qualified electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) – AKA charging equipment – that provides a 50-percent rebate for the EVSE plus installation costs.

Beyond this, the state offers an alternative fuel vehicle voucher program, alternative fuel infrastructure grants, an innovative transportation project competitive grant program, and this info is worth looking into via the AFDC site, or MEA site.

3. Louisiana – $3,000

The land of the Mardi Gras, Cajun, Creole, and other cultural uniqueness is also making its contribution to green energy with a tax credit of 10 percent of a new motor vehicle’s cost, up to $3,000.

This is an alternative to an income tax credit for 50 percent of the cost of converting or purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle or constructing an alternative fueling station.

Just facelift, the Tesla Model S was introduced in summer 2012, and has been updated on the fly, The automaker has other issues with states however, and a few have restrictions on its factory direct sales practice. Tesla’s website incentive page is a source for more info.

Just facelift, the Tesla Model S was introduced in summer 2012, and has been updated on the fly, The automaker has other issues with states however, and a few have restrictions on its factory direct sales practice. Tesla’s website incentive page is a source for more info.

Uncertain is the status at the moment. Latest available data said by January 31, 2016, the Louisiana House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs ws to review the credit’s economic benefit and make a recommendation by March 1, 2017, to extend or terminate the credit.

More info on Louisiana programs is available at AFDC or the state website.

2. Connecticut – $3,000 Cash on the Hood!

In announcing its program, Connecticut stakeholders said they thought they could maybe teach California a lesson on how to do subsidies, which at the moment given California’s status, is all the more potent.

“We’re a small state, but we have some big ideas, and maybe we can show California how to do this,” said Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association in August 2015 as they announced cash on the hood rebates. “It’s a bit of an experiment.”

The BMW i3 comes in pure battery electric and range-extended versions. Its battery options are being updated, and while less than the Bolt’s is a very advanced car.

The BMW i3 comes in pure battery electric and range-extended versions. Its battery options are being updated, and while less than the Bolt’s is a very advanced car.

Much more attractive than waiting for a check or tax credit is money at the point of sale taken directly off the sales price, and that is what Connecticut does. As the other “tri-state” mentioned, the exact amount varies by eligible car, and it will accommodate fuel cell vehicles if and when they get there, as has been planned.

Its Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program (CHEAPR) provides up to $3,000 for purchase or lease of a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), or PEV on a first-come, first-served basis.

SEE ALSO: Plug-in Electrified Cars Are Up To $3,000 CHEAPR in Connecticut

Registration fees are reduced also, and if you happen to live in New Haven, you are qualified for free parking with a qualified AFVs and HEVs registered there.

The program is being modified as of July 1, and more can be seen at the AFDC, or Connecticut’s site.

1. Colorado – $6,000

This state is the missing link to the Volt purchase example used up top for how to get a $34,995 Volt for approximately $22,000 as a Volt is eligible for around $4,500 in a program that goes as high as $6,000 for qualified vehicles. With a new twist on the meaning of Rocky Mountain high, residents eligible for the full $7,500 plus $6,000 in state credit will have to front the money when making the purchase, but stand to get it all back come tax time.

The state’s Alternative Fuel & Advanced Vehicle Technology Tax Credit provides up to $6,000 for a motor vehicle that uses or is converted to use an alternative fuel, is a hybrid electric vehicle or has its power source replaced with one that uses an alternative fuel.

The Chevy Volt is a compact, so it’s smaller than midsized plug-in hybrid sedans, but stomps them all in the all-important EV range category, with 53 miles rated range.

The Chevy Volt is a compact, so it’s smaller than midsized plug-in hybrid sedans, but stomps them all in the all-important EV range category, with 53 miles rated range.

Fleet buyers can also qualify for up to $8,260 per PEV under a program by The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) which provides grants to support fleet PEV adoption.

Also supported for consumers are electric vehicle charging equipment grants, a solo driver HOV lane exemption, and what’s not to like?

For more info, check out AFDC, or the state website.

More States

At least 42 states offer some form of support for alternative fuel vehicles, and many of them have attractive programs that can seriously offset the expense of acquiring one.

SEE ALSO: Survey Shows Consumers Want More Plug-in Electrified Vehicle Choices

Apart for the AFDC website, an excellent reference has been the National Conference of State Legislatures’ soup-to-nuts compendium all on one page put together by Energy Program Manager Kristy Hartman. Last updated December 2015, changes in state programs have taken place since then, and an updated page is expected soon.

This article appers also at


Jul 05

Volt leads sales of plug-in gas-electric cars in June


Did everyone have a nice Fourth of July?


The Volt had another month hovering in the 2,000 vicinity, specifically 1,937 sales in June.

Chevrolet’s EREV is up 56.1 percent over June 2015, and calendar year-to-date sales was 9,808.

For the past five years it’s been a tradition for some to ask how the Leaf is doing as well, though it’s become apparent these are two different cars, and now in two different market cycles.

If you’re curious, the still-gen-one Leaf sold 1,096 but of greater note is the Ford plug-in hybrid sedan which is coming on strong in qualified terms.

The Fusion Energi sold 1,700 units in June, up 133.8 percent year over year. Year-to-date, it’s at 7,235 sales.

It and the Volt are the two plug-in gas electric cars with the best U.S. sales, and the next nearest is the C-Max Energi, which sold 630 in June, down 5.5 percent, and with 3,225 year to date.

In all, the Volt is the leader in gas-electric PEVs though all-electric Tesla has it edged with the S selling an estimated 2,800 in June, and 11,700 for the year, and the X selling an estimated 2,000, and 6,900 for the year.


Jul 04

Plug-in Vehicles Are The Best Used Car Bargains


Happy Independence Day, everyone!

By Larry E. Hall


Have you been eyeing a new battery electric (EV) or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) but shied away because of price?

If so, you should consider looking into the used car market.

Prices for plug-in vehicles, both electric and hybrid, categorized as one to three years-old have dropped precipitously, making them some of the hottest selling and best deals around.

The average price of near-new EVs has dropped $3,830 on average year-over-year, where conventional gasoline cars over the same time period have dropped just $242 according to a new study by used car aggregator,

“The market may have hit a sweet spot where the pricing has dropped enough to make these cars more desirable,” says the company’s CEO, Phong Ly.

Contributing to the large numbers of used plug-in vehicles has been lucrative lease incentives offered by automakers.

That means many of the used plugs-ins available are eligible for pre-owned vehicle programs available from car companies, making them an even better deal.

SEE ALSO: Top 6 Hybrid Cars That Pay Back the Soonest

For example, a Nissan Leaf can cost less than half of the original $30,000 manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which includes a $7,500 federal rebate incentive.

A near-new Leaf averages $12,533, according to’s study of over 2.2 million near-new cars.

The study also found that five of the top 10-fastest selling used cars are electric or plug-in hybrids models.

The fastest mover off of dealer lots is Toyota’s Prius Plug-in, selling in just 19.7 days. That’s more than twice as fast as the average near-new car.

Next is the Nissan Leaf EV, taking 23.3 days to sell, which is followed by the Tesla Model S electric sedan at 26.1 days.

Hybrid models Lexus CT200h (29.4) days and Toyota Highlander Hybrid (29.6) are also fast movers.

This makes it a green car buyer market, and those willing to gamble that “what goes down must come up” could well look like geniuses if and when gas again breaks the $4 per gallon mark.

However, Ly says don’t wait around. “Consumers who are ready to take the leap into a hybrid, plug-in or full EV have a great opportunity to get one at a price that is more affordable than ever.

“But they may face challenges finding the model they want due to lower availability.”

Chicago Tribune

This article appears also at


Jul 01

NHTSA Opens Preliminary Evaluation Following Death of Tesla Model S Driver Using Autopilot


Very sad …


Following an early May death of a Model S driver operating the car in Florida in its semi-autonomous Autopilot function, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is opening a preliminary evaluation.

Today Tesla issued a blog post saying it had delivered information to NHTSA following the car’s careering into a tractor trailer which had crossed in front of the car, and learned yesterday that federal regulators were opening a preliminary evaluation.

“It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations,” said Tesla.


The driver’s name was Joshua D. Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, and his obituary says he’d been a member of the Navy Seals, with 11 years served. He then started a successful technology company, Nexu Innovations Inc., and is survived by his parents, Warren and Sueanne Brown, of Stow, Ohio; his sister, Amanda Lee (Jeremy Lee); six nieces and nephews; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Releasing Autopilot Update For All Compatible Vehicles

An inquiry to NHTSA received a reply from Communications Director Bryan Thomas saying “NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation is opening a Preliminary Evaluation of the design and performance of automated driving systems in the Tesla Model S.”

“NHTSA recently learned of a fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S, which, according to the manufacturer, was operating with the vehicle’s ‘Autopilot’ automated driving systems activated. The incident, which occurred on May 7 in Williston, Florida, was reported to NHTSA by Tesla,” said Thomas. “NHTSA deployed its Special Crash Investigations Team to investigate the vehicle and crash scene, and is in communication with the Florida Highway Patrol. Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway. The driver of the Tesla died due to injuries sustained in the crash.”

Tesla in its own words set the narrative of what happened:

Following our standard practice, Tesla informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred. What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.


Thomas gave a status report of where things stand with the federal regulators.

“NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation will examine the design and performance of the automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash. During the Preliminary Evaluation, NHTSA will gather additional data regarding this incident and other information regarding the automated driving system,” said Thomas. “The opening of the Preliminary Evaluation should not be construed as a finding that the Office of Defects Investigation believes there is either a presence or absence of a defect in the subject vehicles.”

Tesla’s blog post opens by saying that Tesla’s miles driven between fatal crashes exceeds that of the average.

“This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” it said. “Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.”

SEE ALSO: Volvo Engineer Disdainful of Tesla’s Autopilot

In other quarters, the Autopilot function has stirred mixed imprssions, with some including an employee of Volvo saying Tesla was irresponsible for launching a beta example of this tech that lives are dependent upon.

“It gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is,” said Trent Victor, senior technical leader of crash avoidance at Volvo in an interview with The Verge, “[Tesla’s Autopilot] is more of an unsupervised wannabe.”

And whether that is exactly the case with Brown, at least certain is he posted videos of himself riding in autopilot mode.

“The car’s doing it all itself,” he said in one (below), smiling with hands off the wheel. Another video had him crediting the system for saving him from an accident.

At issue is the vehicle may follow the roadway, but numerous YouTube videos of near misses and other anecdotes have come forth showing this is not a hands-free system.

And to be sure, Tesla has repeatedly said it is not that. The driver is supposed to remain in control with hands on the wheel.

A video compiled from random YouTube clips shows the system did not meet expectations held in the mind of the drivers, as well as spots where near misses were avoided avoided thanks to Autopilot.

Where things may become tricky is Autopilot is good enough to lull drivers into hands-free driving, and indeed it can drive hands free under many situations, which may create a false sense of security or a lessening of vigilance.

Tesla addressed some of this in its blog post.

It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled. When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and that “you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using it. Additionally, every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.” The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver’s hands remain on the wheel and provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected. It then gradually slows down the car until hands-on is detected again.


Tesla followed up with more:

We do this to ensure that every time the feature is used, it is used as safely as possible. As more real-world miles accumulate and the software logic accounts for increasingly rare events, the probability of injury will keep decreasing. Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert. Nonetheless, when used in conjunction with driver oversight, the data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving.



The company expressed condolences in its blog post for the customer who died.

This article appears also at


Jun 30

It’s Not The Feds Who are Pushing the Plug-in Vehicle Agenda


You might want to keep your eye out for automakers lobbying against CAFE just the same …


Frequently reports allude to “regulations” compelling automakers to build plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs), and while that’s generally true, it’s less so for regulations set by the U.S. government.

Despite a “54.5” mpg average demanded by federal 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules, the slim percentage of PEVs sold today would barely need to be raised over the next nine years for manufacturers to make the grade, but California may not make it so easy.

That is, California and nine other states signed onto the Euro-style vision embraced by California’s Air Resources Board for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) won’t let them off easy, and by 2018 the clamp is set to get tighter. In short, automakers who may now be reluctant to market PEVs outside of ZEV states will be less able to as a loophole closes.

Also supported by the ZEV rules are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but given their lack of infrastructure, cost, and technical impediments, plus the head start by plug-in vehicles, California rules are effectively driving PEV development and sales as well.

For this, plug-in advocates can all say thanks to California, though it has not been all rosy. Up till now, an arcane system of overlapping rules that only a bureaucrat could love enabled automakers to sell what PEV/ZEV advocates have pejoratively called “compliance cars.”

Under California rules, automakers could receive partial credit from hybrid and low-emission conventional vehicle sales to meet ZEV quotas, but in 2018 they will need to sell more real live plug-in vehicles to meet these ZEV quotas.

According to what is known as Section 177 of California’s rules, other states have also piggybacked onto the mandates, making a bloc of 28 percent of the U.S. auto market.

3.3 Million ZEVs by 2025

The history of a confederacy of states in sympathy with California’s mandates for cleaner air and less petroleum dependence goes back several years, and in October 2013 a significant pact was made to force automakers’ hands.

At that time, eight states signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) calling for 3.3 million ZEVs on these states’ roads by 2025.

Fuel cell vehicles have been heavily rewarded, some might say ironically because they refuel faster. It could be considered ironic because infrastructure is next to nothing at the moment. CARB rules favoring fast refueling are due to change in 2018, and automakers are in it for the long haul in a necessarily slow deployment. The ZEV rules otherwise are compelling automakers to build plug-in cars.

Fuel cell vehicles have been heavily rewarded, some might say ironically because they refuel faster. It could be considered ironic because infrastructure is next to nothing at the moment. CARB rules favoring fast refueling are due to change in 2018, and automakers are in it for the long haul in a necessarily slow deployment. The ZEV rules otherwise are compelling automakers to build plug-in cars.

To date, the entire U.S. is nearing a half million cumulative total PEVs since they first went on sale last decade. In California alone, ZEV mandates call for 15 percent, or one-in-seven PEVs by 2025. Today PEVs comprise about 3 percent of California’s new light-duty vehicle market, much more than the roughly 0.75 percent for the U.S. as a whole, but California and company are not content with where things stand.

The MOU was signed by the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

“[A]cccelerating the ZEV market is a critical strategy for achieving our goals to reduce transportation-related air pollution, including criteria air pollutants, mobile source air toxics and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth,” said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the eight-state coalition, “and … our states are committed to reducing air pollution, including the emission of GHGs and other air pollutants from the mobile source sector.”

Provisions or the MOU call for consumer ZEV incentives including financial rebates, and permission of solo access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access, as well as commitment to charging (and hydrogen) infrastructure.


Also mandated is an attempt to give PEVs value-proposition parity with conventional cars, and the plan affecting public and private vehicle purchases calls for establishing vehicle recharging rates competitive with gasoline.

The word “hybrid” or “plug-in hybrid” was not mentioned in the MOU, but these are in other quarters considered part-time ZEVs, and talk of accountability toward the goal was made.

“On an annual basis, each Signatory State will report, within available capabilities, on the number of ZEVs registered in its jurisdiction, the number of electric/hydrogen fueling stations open to the public and available information regarding workplace fueling for ZEVs,” said the MOU.

Since this MOU was announced, while there have been developments to support it, there has not been a lot of news about it.

This week however Automotive News reported that despite the market outside California being “currently challenging” to the proliferation of PEVs/ZEVs, the handwriting is on the wall.

“As we are now closer to 2018, everyone is beginning to see that the mandate is not going away,” said Devin Lindsay, IHS Automotive’s principal analyst for North American powertrains to Automotive News speaking of California’s ZEV mandates.

An article outlines various measures in which automakers are engaging California, and they need to, because CAFE otherwise would never hold them to such account.

CAFE’s 1-3 Percent

In June 2013 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in charge of CAFE rule making for the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency said in so many words, it had engineered an escape valve for carmakers to avoid plug-in technologies.

The CAFE rules had been agreed upon the year prior and the disclosure by then-administrator for NHTSA David Strickland was at a Consumer Reports-sponsored panel in Yonkers, N.Y.


“Our analysis at NHTSA projects that the automakers can meet these standards largely through advantages in internal combustion engines,” said Strickland, “We project that the automakers will only need to produce about 1 to 3 percent of electric vehicles from plug-ins to meet the 2025 standards.”

Other estimates have put the number at 0-2 percent PEVs by 2025.

Strickland alluded to numerous technologies to reduce gas and diesel engine fuel consumption and to clean up emissions. These include, aside from non-plug-in hybridization, gasoline direct injection, downsized turbo engines, automatic transmissions with 8,9,10 speeds, stop-start tech, cylinder deactivation, 48-volt “micro hybrids,” and much more.

All of it is to incrementally make the vehicles passable under regulatory limits as they get increasingly tougher.

In short, Strickland said conventional vehicles can be made to pass higher fuel economy and emission targets now through 2025 under federal rules which erroneously may be reported as “54.5” mpg.

This number is a composite estimated average, and may vary as fleet assortments vary. It is also a deviation from the multiple tests used to determine window sticker values on new vehicles. In essence, 54.5 mpg equals somewhere just over 40 mpg on the sticker.

Rules for trucks, by the way, are not as strict as for lighter, smaller vehicles, so the actually flexible “54.5” could vary by 2025, potentially dipping downward if America continues buying record numbers of SUVs and trucks.

Regulations Remain

Aside from CAFE, automakers must contend with rules in all markets in which they do business which supports the opening statement to this article that regulations are driving carmakers.

To their credit, they’ve gotten an early jump on things, and signs are they will be able to meet their U.S. targets.

As we speak, the feds are preparing to hear from automakers on a so-called mid-term review to assess viability of 2022-2025 CAFE rules and make any adjustments if deemed necessary.


It’s been reported that automakers which have been known in the past to appeal rules calling for tougher standards are lobbying again as this next period is pending finalization, and it was enough to prompt Union of Concerned Scientists to write a blog post urging automakers to stay the course.

As it is, all automakers because of their global involvement, and as costs have come down faster than expected, and other factors on the supply and demand side besides, are making inroads to plug-in cars.

SEE ALSO: Automaker Alliance Seeking to Influence Midterm Evaluation of Federal Fuel Economy Rules

To be sure also, zero emission vehicles make a bigger dent in fleet fuel economy scores than 5 percent here, 10 percent there, 20 percent over there as is the case with conventional incremental tweaks.

The industry is increasing its plug-in electrification regardless, therefore, even if the U.S. government in 2012 said it did not really have to.

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