The federal government is rolling back fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama Administration and revoking California’s ability to set stricter vehicle emission standards, including the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. On Friday, September 27, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially published the new Clean Car Standards rule, called the SAFE Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Standard, to take effect November 26, 2019. The California program, called the Advanced Clean Cars Program, is also fully adopted by nine other states.
What does this activity mean for sales of electric vehicles (EVs)? There’s no doubt the single biggest policy driver for the EV market is the ZEV mandate, which requires that an increasing percentage of new cars sold in the state be zero-emission. This forces the automakers to actually make EVs or to buy credits from other automakers who are making these clean cars. A report issued last week by the Rhodium group on the rollback of the standards found that: “Relative to Obama-era rules, we find that rolling back national fuel economy standards and revoking California’s waiver could reduce the share of ZEVs sold in 2035 by up to 8 percentage points nationwide, which could mean up to 14 million fewer ZEVs on the road by that year.”
Since the publication of the SAFE Vehicles Rule, the states of Minnesota and New Mexico have announced their intent to join the California Advanced Clean Cars program—including adopting the ZEV mandate—regardless of the action by the Trump Administration to revoke the waiver that allows for the California program. These two states join Colorado in taking bold action in 2019 to offer their citizens more access to EVs. As the lengthy legal battle plays out on the federal level by groups and states challenging the Administration over revoking the waiver, the adoption of the ZEV mandate by states like CO, NM and MN is a strong signal to policymakers and automakers that there is consumer demand for EVs and that the future of transportation is electric and clean.
Plug In America is part of the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation and therefore also a part of the lawsuit that is suing the federal government for rolling back the Clean Car Standards and revoking the CA waiver. We will also continue working with states to implement supportive state level policies and programs that drive adoption of EVs.