* Plans to put 1.4 mln green cars on Calif. roads by 2025
* Would save drivers $22 bln in fuel costs
* ARB to mull adopting rules at Jan. 26 meeting
By Nichola Groom
Dec 7 California's powerful air quality
regulator on Wednesday proposed sweeping new rules to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, including putting 1.4
million electric, plug-in and hydrogen cars on the state's
roads by 2025.
In addition to curbing climate warming gases, the program
will also save drivers $22 billion in fuel costs, the state's
Air Resources Board said.
The proposals are part of the Golden State's aggressive
plan to reduce climate warming emissions by 80 percent by 2050
and come three weeks after the Obama administration proposed
doubling auto fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon
nationwide by 2025.
The ARB will consider adoption of the rules at a meeting on
California is the biggest U.S. car market and has had the
distinction of being able to set policy independent of federal
rules, making it over the years into a laboratory for change.
The United States developed its new greenhouse gas standard
for 2017 vehicle models and beyond jointly with California,
which has long had separate, more stringent regulations. The
new standard will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles
by 34 percent compared to 2016 levels.
The state also said that though new, fuel-sipping
technologies will increase the cost of a new vehicle by about
$1,900, those costs will be more than offset by $6,000 in fuel
cost savings over the life of the car.
About 40 percent of California's greenhouse gases come from
vehicles, and the state's new rules also aim to stimulate
production of so-called zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, which
include cars that run on electric batteries and fuel cells.
The state wants ZEVs such as Nissan Motor Co Ltd's
all-electric Leaf or plug-in hybrids like General Motors' Chevrolet Volt to make up more than 15 percent of new
vehicle sales by 2025.
But, the state said, plug-in hybrids would be transitional
vehicles, adding that 87 percent of the cars on the road will
have to be pure ZEVs by 2050 for the state to achieve its
The target is an aggressive one considering that such
vehicles make up well below 1 percent of the market, and
California has been forced to scale back its ZEV goals in the
past because vehicle technology lagged the state's hopes for
putting clean cars on its roads and highways.
In 2008, the ARB reduced the number of pure ZEVs to 7,500
for the three years from 2012 to 2014 from a previous
requirement of 25,000.
Since then, however, automakers have stepped up their
investment in more fuel-efficient vehicles, including battery
Still, the new rules include a provision to allow
automakers that over comply with their fuel efficiency
requirements across their fleet to offset their ZEV
requirement, an apparent acknowledgment of the slow pace of
getting such vehicles into the mass market.
But some green car advocates said that while the new
requirement was strong, California should not give automakers a
mechanism to offset their ZEV requirement.
"With more than 30 models of electric cars expected from
automakers in the next few years, California should feel
confident enough to eliminate special credits that could
undermine the proposal and set a 30 percent more aggressive
sales target," Don Anair, senior engineer with the Union of
Concerned Scientists' clean vehicle program, said in a