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California Drops Electric Car Requirements

March 10, 2003

California has dropped a requirement that manufacturers sell electric cars, the state’s most recent attempt to persuade the automakers to end their opposition to its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program, reported Bloomberg News. According to the news agency, citing spokesman Dimitri Stanich, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) outlined proposed changes to the ZEV program that would let companies sell more gasoline-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell cars instead of battery-powered cars starting with 2005 models. In 2002, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and the Justice Department were successful in obtaining a federal injunction to block the board from enforcing the program. The program requires that 10 percent of cars sold in the state by the six largest automakers emit almost no pollution. Ruling on the suit is expected this month by a district court in San Francisco. Stanich said that under the latest proposal, automakers (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan) would be expected to sell a combination of hybrids and gasoline-engine vehicles that emit almost no tailpipe exhaust or pollution from fuel evaporation. In addition, the automakers would be expected to sell 250 ZEVs by 2008 that could be powered by either batteries or fuel cells. Manufacturers have shied away from selling pure electric vehicles, saying they have too little range to satisfy most customers and are too costly, Bloomberg News reported. CARB will consider the proposed changes at a meeting on March 27 in Sacramento. In January, the agency proposed easing the mandate by delaying its start until 2005 from 2003, reducing the required number of battery or fuel-cell vehicles by half, and encouraging companies to sell more hybrids.
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