The following is an update on some of the regulatory and government related news affecting the NEV market that has occurred from the beginning of the year.
California aims to increase NEV credits – The California Air Resources Board announced and took comments on changes to their ZEV program. One of the proposed changes is to increase the credits for NEVs from 0.15 to 0.3 per vehicles “…to reflect the vehicle’s positive environmental benefits but limited functionality compared with full function battery or fuel cell EVs.” Regulators are calling for as few as 27,500 no-emission vehicles to be introduced between 2012 and 2017, compared with 75,000 in the existing mandate.
The following synopsis is from my interview with a program manager: The proposal will be reviewed within a year or less and other changes may move partial ZEV vehicles into the low emission program and hybrids into the green house gas program which will push vehicles in these programs down to the emission levels of these type of vehicles respectively. The idea is to leave the ZEV program as an incubator for new technologies with the goal of bringing these technologies to market quickly. The inclination is to make these requirements more stringent to speed up bringing technology to the market. This begs the question of where NEVs will fit since their technology is not new and a viable market has been established.
Arizona drafts zero emission vehicle mandates – In January of this year state environmental officials in Arizona released draft rules that would mandate that 11 percent of each company’s vehicles sold in Arizona beginning in the 2011 model year have zero emissions. The percentage would increase to 16 percent by 2018. Other options for meeting the standards include selling more partial zero emission vehicles or purchasing zero emission vehicle credits from other manufacturers. Currently NEVs are the primary zero emission vehicles operating on the roads.
Alternative fuel vehicle rebates – California is offering rebates of up to $5,000 to residents who purchase alternative fuel vehicles. $1.62 million in rebates are scheduled to be granted statewide by California Center for Sustainable Energy, an independent nonprofit organization based in San Diego. Owners of Vectrix electric motorcycles may qualify for up to $1,500 and Global Electric Motorcars owners may receive $950 and $1,300.
According to the California Air Resources Board website the 2008 model year Miles ZX40S AD and ZX40ST neighborhood electric vehicles have been added to the list of vehicles eligible for rebates under the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentive Program (also known as Fueling Alternatives). They will be available for a $1,500 rebate, Other models from GEM, Zap and ZENN are also available for rebates ranging from $950 to $1,500. See the following list for more information.
New car buyers in the state of Washington are going to get a break on their sales taxes when they buy some vehicles that run on alternative fuels. The tax break (9.3 percent in the Seattle area) covers vehicles that run on natural gas, propane and hydrogen, as well as “neighborhood electric vehicles” or “medium speed vehicles” (street legal, but can’t go faster than 35 mph).
Chrysler, maker of the GEM, and Vectrix, an electric scooter manufacturer, are both trying to get their vehicles covered by a new tax credit for plug-in electric cars. The legislation now covers “regular” sized passenger vehicles which are eligible for a $3,000 tax credit when purchased. Chrysler and Vectrix are pushing for a $1,500 credit for “urban commuter vehicles”. The legislation is part of a larger bill covering renewable energy and other tax credits that may be passed in the coming months.
Current NEV manufacturers listed as GSA suppliers – NEV manufacturers listed on the General Services Administration supplier list include GEM, ZENN, Columbia Parcar and Classic Golf Car