By: Kish Rajan
With the clock ticking down to the end of this year’s legislative session, our leaders in Sacramento are debating initiatives that will put more clean cars on the road, boost air quality and innovation, and improve the health of our residents. We must take advantage of this brief window of opportunity to recalibrate the state’s primary mechanism for encouraging electric vehicle adoption – the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credit system.
California – led by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state air resources board — leads the world in the transition to zero tailpipe emissions, powered by ingenuity not only in the technological realm, but in the policy arena as well. The goal was to bolster the efforts of automotive entrepreneurs to accelerate the deployment of clean cars up and down the state, in an industry notoriously immune to change.
The ZEV credit program as it’s currently structured won’t get us to where we need to be – currently, fewer than four percent of cars sold each model year are electric.
To ignite and accelerate this shift, state policymakers introduced so-called “ZEV credits”, a program to incentivize car companies to devote significant resources toward developing and deploying electric vehicle models that excite drivers. This is the carrot for the automotive industry to move forward. The intent was to inject vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions into the marketplace; it was smart, creative regulation to bolster innovation and creativity that should be a national model.
These credits were designed to work with companies small and large, legacy and upstart, in order to push the clean car market forward.
Yet, despite the best intentions of state regulators, the ZEV credit program as it’s currently structured won’t get us to where we need to be – currently, fewer than 4 percent of cars sold each model year are electric.