California report finds electric and other low emissions vehicle technology accelerating faster than expecting

Just as electric vehicles can be quicker off the starting line than fossil fuel vehicles, the technology for zero and low emissions passenger vehicles is advancing faster than most thought possible.  A report just released by the California Air Resources Board finds that the California greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012 – when the standards were adopted with support from many automakers. Continuing on the path to meeting the 2025 standards will deliver significant clean-air and public health benefits for Californians and cost-savings for consumers.

The 667-page Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program report released this week confirms that the previously adopted package of GHG standards, technology-forcing zero-emission vehicle standards, and the most health-protective particulate matter standards in the world are appropriate. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

“The recent Detroit auto show shined a spotlight on the fact that we are fully engaged in a global transformation towards autonomous vehicles, with hybrid cars an industry norm and electric models appearing across models and platforms,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Our standards need to recognize and keep pace with that market reality to keep California and the nation fully competitive in the global automobile marketplace. The conclusion is inescapable: California’s vehicle future is electric.”

In addition to its vehicle GHG and zero-emission vehicle rules, California, with nearly half of all zero-emission vehicles in the nation, has several programs in place to further support the growing electric car marketplace. The state offers rebates to new buyers or lessees of zero-emission vehicles, is developing an initial hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support fuel cell electric vehicles, and agencies are pursuing nearly 200 actions to support the market, as identified in the Governor’s 2016 ZEV Action Plan. Additionally, California’s utilities are making significant investments in electric charging infrastructure and a broad public-private partnership is supporting public education and outreach campaigns through the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, and Veloz.

The report recommends that California make a major push now to develop new post-2025 standards while working with automakers, federal regulators and partner states to further develop the market for electric cars.

The report also demonstrates that the California zero-emission vehicle regulation is working as intended — helping to drive technological and market development that accelerate the manufacturing efficiency, vehicle improvements and cost reductions that come with increased production. This will ultimately benefit all Americans, as the technology improvements are implemented throughout manufacturers fleets.

As with conventional cars, zero-emission vehicle technology is advancing at a much faster pace than anticipated. California has more than a quarter-million ZEVs on the road and there are more than a half-million nationally. Worldwide there are now more than 2 million of these vehicles, and the market is growing. Virtually every major automaker now produces or has in development at least one zero-emission vehicle model. December 2016 sales of zero-emission cars in the U.S. exceeded previous monthly highs.

In the next few years, the zero-emission market will see more than 20 new electric and plug-in model introductions. Many future offerings will have greater driving range — more than 200 miles — at mass-market prices and provide consumers with more choices of body styles, brands, and consumer utility, including SUVs and cross-overs.

The current regulations also have a national impact, putting more zero-emission vehicles into other states throughout the nation which have adopted California’s rules. Those states, together with California, comprise more than one-quarter of all new car sales nationally.

The staff report also presents the first comprehensive in-depth analysis of the zero-emission vehicle market in California, including valuable new research on consumers to fully assess the benefits and use profiles of the ZEVs now operating in California.

Components of this unique new consumer review include an analysis of detailed data provided by seven auto manufacturers for more than 90,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, accounting for more than 1 billion miles driven and more than 40 million charging events. Additionally, survey responses from more than 32,000 current and past electric car and plug-in hybrid drivers on their prior ownership patterns, purchase motivations, charging availability, and vehicle satisfaction will help inform actions to address existing challenges to expand the zero-emission vehicle market, and accelerate commercialization of zero-emission vehicle technology.

The report identifies these challenges and the need for more charging and fueling infrastructure and greater consumer awareness of the benefits and drivability of ZEVs.

CARB staff recommends that California’s efforts now focus on stronger regulations for greenhouse gas reduction beyond 2025 and increased emphasis on a broad framework to support zero-emission vehicles. CARB’s Mobile Source Strategy document released in May 2016 calls for putting more than 4 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030, and further annual reductions in fleet-wide new car greenhouse gas emissions of 4-5 percent.


You can find the CARB Midterm Review here
Next Steps:

The CARB Board will consider the Midterm Review at the March 23-24 Board hearing in Riverside, California.

Additional information about the CARB Midterm Review, including the Board hearing notice, the Midterm Review report, and supporting documentation, may be obtained from CARB’s website at

Stakeholders may submit comments on this report to the docket up to March 20, 2017. To make a public comment, visit: