The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 25, 2013

8 states promoting clean cars

By JASON DEAREN Associated Press
The Clinton Herald

---- — SAN FRANCISCO — Eight states, including California and New York, pledged Thursday to work together to dramatically multiply the number of zero-emission cars on the nation’s roads by speeding the construction of charging stations and other infrastructure.

The goal is to put 3.3 million battery-powered cars, plug-in hybrids and other clean-burning vehicles on the roads in those states by 2025. That’s more than 15 times as many zero-emission vehicles projected to be in use in the entire U.S. by 2015.

Auto dealers say networks of charging stations and other conveniences are crucial to winning over drivers who are accustomed to pulling up to the gas pump and fear getting stranded by a dead battery.

The other states in the pact are Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. The eight states together represent about 23 percent of the U.S. auto market.

The Associated Press breaks down why there are not more zero-emission cars already, the keys to accomplishing the goal and the formidable challenges:

How does this agreement differ from plans already in place in the states?

Each state has already separately adopted rules to require a percentage of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission by 2025.

For example, California’s mandate of 15.4 percent calls for a total of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles to be on the state’s roads by that time. Currently, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles make up less than 2 percent of the state’s market.

The agreement signed Thursday is aimed at coordinating efforts among the eight states so that incentives, zoning laws and other ideas for promoting zero-emission vehicles can be more quickly implemented.

“The idea is to make it easier for customers to operate and use zero-emission vehicles. This in turn will help pave the way for success of the auto industry,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

Deb Markowitz, Vermont’s natural resources secretary, said her state will probably form partnerships with companies to help them build charging stations and other necessary infrastructure.

Are the states contributing money to make this happen?

The agreement signed Thursday requires no specific financial commitment from each state. But each has already launched incentive programs and other policies meant to increase sales of zero-emission vehicles.

For example, California offers up to $2,500 in buyer rebates. The state leads the nation in zero emission vehicle sales, with more than 33,000 sold through June 30, and has set aside an additional $59.55 million for some 29,000 rebates through mid-2014. The state has also dedicated $20 million annually through 2024 or until 100 hydrogen stations are built, whichever comes first.