NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

California Reviewing Electric Car Regulations

March 28, 2000

A number of states will be watching to see if California will back down on its 1990 initiative to promote sales of battery-powered electric cars in the state. Members of the California Air Resource Board are gearing up for their biennial review of a mandate requiring that the equivalent of 10 percent of cars and light trucks sold in the state as of 2003 emit no pollution.

  • That would translate into about 22,000 battery-powered vehicles each year -- plus an even greater number of advanced-technology cars that admit small amounts of pollution.
  • Auto makers sold or leased only about 3,300 electric vehicles across the entire country during the past four years.
  • General Motors and Honda recently announced they were stopping production of battery-powered cars and GM recalled most of the battery-powered cars it has leased since 1996 because they could catch fire while being recharged.
  • Auto makers are now focusing on development of so-called hybrid vehicles -- which combine a traditional gasoline- or diesel-powered engine with an auxiliary electric motor to improve fuel economy.

Hybrids don't have to be plugged in to be recharged, since their electric motors do that automatically while driving. Batteries presently available must be recharged every 80 or 90 miles.

Source: Jeffrey Ball, "Will California Pull the Plug on Electric Cars?" Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2000.


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