Is California Killing the Clean Cars Again?

If you’ve watched the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” released in 2006, you know that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had a hand in General Motors and the other large automakers crushing their electric cars.

In late January 2012, CARB decided to push another clean air mandate in California similar to the one that killed the electric car over a decade ago.

According to title="BusinessWeek" href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-31/california-considers-plan-to-speed-battery-hydrogen-auto-sales.html" target="_blank">BusinessWeek, “California, the state with authority to set air-pollution rules stricter than U.S. government’s, is considering a plan requiring carmakers to sell more than 1 million autos by 2025 that emit little or no tailpipe or carbon exhaust.”

This mandate while seemingly well-intentioned could kill off electric and hydrogen cars, delay their pathway into the marketplace or actually accelerate their entry into the marketplace.

What is unclear at this point is whether CARB will simply mandate automakers to hit this goal (in which like last time carmakers may react by creating thousands of alt fuel golf carts) or whether CARB will mandate AND support this effort.

The last time there was simply a mandate on the table of “You do this or else you face heavy fines.” A better approach is that if the California government says, “You make the electric and hydrogen cars and we’ll take care of building out the infrastructure to support your efforts.’

Without hundreds or even thousands of public electric charging stations and hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state, it’s unlikely that consumers in great numbers will flock to this leading edge zero emissions technology.

Let’s hope that this is not just another repeat of the past, where cars are crushed and a couple of industries are setback for another decade or so. If CARB does it right this time, however, their mandate could accelerate the building of zero emission vehicles and the supporting infrastructure at a rapid pace, creating jobs, energy independence and cleaner air for the residents of the Golden State.

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