Eight U.S. States Promise to do More to Encourage Electric Car, ZEV Adoption

Thanks to the combined effect of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate from its Air Resources Board and neat perks like being able to drive an electric car in the carpool lane regardless of how many people are on board, California has helped lead America’s electric car revolution.

But now seven other states — Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont — are joining with California in a pact to do everything they can to get more Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) and Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) on the roads. 

We may see more electric vehicles on the roads of the U.S. thanks to a new 8-state pro-EV, FCV initiative.

We may see more electric vehicles on the roads of the U.S. thanks to a new 8-state pro-EV, FCV initiative.

Announced last Thursday, the set of joint initiatives being adopted by all seven states mark the start of a drive to introduce at least 3.3 million plug-in vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to their collective roads by 2025. While part of the agreement will include the purchase of zero or ultra-low emission vehicles within Governmental fleets in preference to traditionally-fuelled gasoline and diesel vehicles, the agreement will also make it easier for private car buyers to tump the pump for good.

The announcement follows on from an agreement made in October last year between the Governors of each state, who want their states to be at the forefront of green transportation technology in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. And while many of the states involved already offer incentives and independent policy to promote the adoption of zero emission vehicles, this agreement will bring them in line with one another in a way which could influence political decision making well beyond the eight states involved.

At the time of writing, final details of the incentives which will be offered to fleet buyers and private consumers alike remain under wraps — but what we can tell you is that Thursday’s agreement will homogenise electric car incentives across all of the states involved. This will make it far easier for consumers to understand the current minefield of individual state incentive programs for all-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell cars where incentives can even vary down to the county or city level.

We think it’s fair to expect part of the new eight-state incentive program to replicate California’s HOV-lane (carpool) access program perks for owners of qualifying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles, along with prime-spot parking and charging in city-owned parking lots. But the program could conceivably go even further, offering Norwegian-style tax breaks for those purchasing zero and ultra-low emission vehicles and more. As we’ve explained earlier however, nothing is set in stone just yet.

HOV-lane access may become a common ZEV perk across all eight states, not just California.

HOV-lane access may become a common ZEV perk across all eight states, not just California.

In examining what other policies to adopt for the octostate agreement however, we suspect California’s Zero Emission Vehicle mandate will be fairly near the top of policymakers’ lists. Under California’s ZEV mandate, automakers must ensure that a specific percentage of their cars sold in state are zero emissions. By 2025 for example, California’s ZEV mandate will require that 15.4 per cent of all new cars produced by an automaker are zero emission vehicles.

It is this ZEV mandate which has resulted in the production of so-called ‘compliance cars’: vehicles made by automakers for the sole purpose of meeting California’s ZEV mandate. At the current time, most compliance cars are only available in the state of California, resulting in a far greater choice of zero emission cars for consumers to chose from. If the new eight-state agreement adopts a ZEV mandate, residents in the involved states will soon get a similar wide, varied choice of vehicles. And a wider choice means more people will find a zero emission vehicle which suits their individual needs.

We’ll bring you more news on this agreement as we have it, but we’re keen to know what you make of it so far. Is it greenwashing, a step forward towards a greener transportation future, or perhaps even something which will spur a more nationwide electric car adoption?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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