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THOSE OF us residing in California—and in 14 other states more or less following its lead—will soon be into ZEV 3, the third phase of this state’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Program. Attending the 2012 Toyota Future Mobility Seminar, held Oct. 16-17 in Denver, I had a chance to hear three specialists assess this initiative.
Analisa Bevan, Chief, Sustainable Transportation Technology Branch, California Air Resources Board, outlined ZEV 3 and its forecasted potential. Moderated by Bloomberg’s Alan Ohnsman, the panel also included Jeremy Anwyl, Vice Chairman of Edmunds.com, and Dr. Constantine Samaras, Engineer at the RAND Corporation, Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
Though coming at the matter from these different perspectives, panelists agreed that technology isn’t really the problem. Rather, consumer acceptance is.
First, though, some background: Back in 1990, California’s ZEV 1 regulation set timetables requiring automakers to sell certain percentages of zero-emission vehicles—or pay stiff fines. It also included “offramps,” periodic reviews with opportunity of modifying the regulation to fit the real world.
After much off-ramping, ZEV 1 seems to have had two significant results. It encouraged a cult status of Toyota’s original RAV4 EV. And it generated scads of angst-filled stories about crushed GM EV1s.
Conventional hybrids (HEVs) aren’t even included in ZEV 3 specifics; plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are. The ZEVs being discussed are battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and those with hydrogen fuel cells (FCEVs).
Automakers currently affected are the “Lucky Eight,” membership based on California sales. These are, alphabetically, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota. (This last is the most heavily affected, as its California sales are the largest.)
Ten other states have bought into ZEV 3, though not necessarily into California’s Phase 3 Reformulated Gasolines, for example.
Ubiquitous though it may appear, Toyota’s Prius and other cars of alternative technology make up only 3.4 percent of national sales; BEV sales are miniscule.
Jeremy Anwyl showed a ranking of auto buyer criteria. Brand loyalty, for instance, figured in more than 20 percent of the purchases. MPG ranked 11th of the 12 criteria, albeit beating Warranty.
Dr. Samaras (who seemed happy being known simply as “Costa”) commented on Total Life Cycle assessments and their effects on optimal choices. As the term implies, TLC considers everything from costs of resources and manufacture through actual use even to eventual disposal. By this metric, Costa claimed, HEVs and PHEVs with smaller batteries potentially improve matters. Larger-battery PHEVs and BEVs might even have a detrimental effect, predominately because of the tradeoffs of battery production.
The marketplace, he noted, doesn’t value these external costs. What’s more, it’s difficult to displace incumbent technology. It’s not enough to equal the status quo; buyers expect new things to be better—and, yet, to be no more expensive.
The coming years of ZEV 3 are going to be interesting indeed. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012
Hearing the words Zero Emmision Vehicle makes me slightly crazy. They’re not! They just cause the emmisions to be given off elsewhere. Then there’s the matter of the tires disappearing into the atmosphere as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against new technologies, but I think it’s a real disservice to imply that there are no emmisions……..
Agreed completely about remote emissions. In fact, were it my doing, I’d have named them (and their regulations) REVS for “Remote Emissions Vehicles.” I did this a while back in the pages of R&T.
Alas, it’s too late for that, at least with regards to regulations.
By the way, and on a not unrelated note, in pre-auto days, horses brought a completely different meaning to the word “emissions.” Me, I’d rather deal with SULEVs or AT-PZEVs or ZEVs, even when some names are misleading.
And thanks sincerely for your reply. – d