A recent CARB PowerPoint slide deck
on the proposal includes one showing all the states which have decided to follow California’s rather than federal vehicle regulations, and claims they account for 40% of all U.S. vehicle sales. Starting with the 2026 model year, 35% of all new vehicle sales would have to be zero emission vehicles in Virginia, not the previous target of 26% under the current regulation.
Given the price differentials and the investment it is making in EV conversion, the auto industry is probably ecstatic. The CARB claims that 300-mile range battery vehicles will achieve cost parity with the older technology by 2033, and offers illustrations of lower lifetime costs, but the initial sticker prices are likely to remain high and the industry really wants to sell the larger cars, SUVs and light trucks, too. See
what the Ford F-150 version costs.
If you have any skin in this game, the slide deck
and an accompanying description of all the related regulatory proposals
are important to review. The depth and breadth of the proposal is impressive. Responding to known elements of consumer resistance to EVs, the rules dive into charging technology, battery life and labeling, and maintenance and warranty requirements.
One goal is to maintain 75-80% of the initial range of the vehicles for their whole useful life, an admission, apparently, that many of the vehicles now being sold lose substantial range over time. That doesn’t happen to a well-maintained internal combustion engine.
Plug-in hybrids will have to go at least 50 miles on a charge (they don’t now?). And, recognizing that internal combustion vehicles will remain on the road for decades, California will impose new fleet standards on them and seek to reduce aggressive driving and cold starts, impose new design standards to prevent evaporation of fuel, and in general remake the industry to its liking.
Starting in 2025, the fleet fuel economy requirements will be calculated with EV’s removed from the equation, and they are totally disregarded from the calculation after 2029. That will force changes with the internal combustion vehicles still being sold.
Even the towing industry is in for some changes.
The claim is that adopting this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2040, which is conceivable only if the claim applies solely to motor vehicle emissions. The slide also shows vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions going down about 20% in that period if these regulations are not imposed. The regulations have even less impact on vehicle nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, also dropping on their own.
California claims the savings to the state and consumers exceed the cost without considering “health benefits or the social cost of carbon.” The health benefits are always exaggerated, if not imagined, and the social cost of carbon is definitely a made-up number.
There is an environmental justice component, “to reward direct automaker action.” Plans include discounted EVs for community programs, lower retail prices, and more used EV’s being directed to participating dealerships. Whether those elements of California’s plan will also apply in Virginia is not clear. If they are tied into the carrot and stick methods California uses to manage dealer and automaker behavior, it is likely they will.
The 2021 General Assembly majority completely surrendered (some might suspect sold) the sovereignty of their constituents. If they didn’t anticipate California was just getting started and would double down, they should have. Bowing under federal regulations is one thing, as Virginians get to vote for members of Congress and the President. No one in Virginia votes for California’s legislators or governor (or can sign a California initiative and referendum petition).
But we do vote on the Virginia legislature again in 16 months.