California released its ambitious Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan last month, aimed at accelerating the market for ZEVs as part of the state's long-term transportation strategy.
The Action Plan will assist California in meeting milestones set out in a 2012 Executive Order, principally having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state's roads by 2025, including hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles.
Among the goals for advancement, the strategy seeks to complete the necessary infrastructure and planning to support the vehicles, by ensuring ample funding for hydrogen and charging stations. As consumer awareness is currently limited, the plan explores expanding awareness and demand through incentive programs and outreach campaigns.
The scheme intends to expand public and private vehicle fleets, directing state departments to boost their share of ZEVs. The final goal of job growth and increasing private sector investment will be met through training and apprenticeship programs and strategic supply chain assessments, respectively.
The ZEV quest in the state is additionally supported by a 2012 California Air Resource Board regulation, which requires automakers to derive 15.4% of their annual sales within the state from ZEVs by 2025. This target is a point of controversy for automakers.
Two lobbying groups for automakers have filed petitions asking the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) to reassess the state's ZEV requirements. Proponents claim that the provision is too dependent on variables outside of their control, such as whether the necessary infrastructure to fuel the vehicles is in place and whether the public accepts and purchases these vehicles.
California is not alone in the ZEV pursuit, as 10 additional states and the District of Columbia (accounting for nearly a third of annual new-car sales) have stated that they too will implement ZEV requirements.
It is speculated that automakers will attempt to recoup their production costs by marketing these vehicles outside of the ZEV states, introducing the vehicles to new markets. How exactly the market will respond in California and beyond is pending; nevertheless, policy makers remain confident that the program will hasten ZEVs' development and diffusion.