How We All Benefit From California's Advanced Clean Cars Program

Today, California released its formal regulatory proposal that demonstrates state leadership in driving clean car technologies into the state and across the nation. The package of standards, as described earlier in a blog here, will have large benefits in terms of saving consumers money, cutting dangerous air pollutants, and also reducing our dependence on oil.  How do you and I benefit from the program? Here’s how:

Our Health and Welfare: Statewide, we can all breathe easier, literally. When fully phased in, the standards will cut smog forming pollution from cars and truck tailpipes by nearly 75% versus today’s new vehicles. And carbon pollution will be cut by 50% versus today’s new vehicles, helping make a big dent in global warming pollution.

Our Pocketbooks: Families can save money. Net savings will average $4,000 over the lifetime of new vehicles. Even if you finance a new vehicle (which is about 80% of us), you’ll be saving money out the door because the lower fuel costs fully offset the incremental vehicle price.

Our Economy: Who could be against saving money and creating jobs? California’s economic output is expected to grow by $14 billion, personal income by $6 billion (think of all that money getting reinvested in our economy), and employment by 37,000 just 5 years after the standards are phased in. Why didn’t we do this sooner?

Our Competitiveness: California developed the Silicon Revolution, started the Internet Revolution, and now is driving the Clean Technologies Revolution through technologies like advanced clean cars. California can help the U.S. win the electric vehicle race as Europe, China, Japan, and Korea all compete for technological dominance.

 In particular, California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Program is helping create the domestic market for automakers, start-up companies, investors, charging service providers, utilities and battery manufacturers all currently investing in the space. Our kids and grandkids who will soon be looking for their first cars will have wider options to purchase cleaner, fuel-sipping vehicles as well as vehicles partly or completely gasoline free.

Going forward, we believe the Air Resources Board (ARB) can strengthen the ZEV proposal even more to result in 1.8 million electric cars in California and 5 million nationally (through the eleven states that have adopted California’s standards) by 2025. ARB’s current proposal results in 1.4 million electric cars sold in California and 4 million nationally, with one third of these vehicles being pure battery electrics or hydrogen fuel cell, and the remaining two thirds being plug-in hybrids.

ARB should also eliminate a special deal given under the ZEV program to automakers that “overcomply” with the GHG standards. The special deal allows an automaker to cut the number of pure electric-drive vehicles by as much as 50% over 2018 to 2021 in exchange for just 2 g/mile over-compliance over four the four years – that’s just a 0.2 miles per gallon increase in fuel economy space. NRDC will work with ARB to make sure this provision is removed or the impact to the ZEV program from this provision is signfiicantly limited.

AS CALIFORNIA HAS SHOWN time and time again, innovation together with the right policies and standards can benefit all of us. The California’s Clean Cars program, with some strenghtening on ZEV, looks like a hands down winner.