This is not just good news for CA. Given their typical leadership position in green, we believe they can ignite a firestorm of hybrid and EV sales.
Why would these cars work well only in CA. Sure, they have some advantages, including additional state tax credits and a good infrastructure for charging. And, yes, Tesla is based there. But gas-fired cars sold quickly outside of Detroit. Why would EV sales have state borders around their success?
These states include Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Oregon. These new figures are from a Northeast States Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) analysis of data from IHS Polk.
What these numbers show is that consumer EV rebates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island are starting to pay off. New consumer rebates, launched just this week in New York and proposed in Maryland, will enable Northeast drivers to electrify even faster and further. And it’s not just rebates. Many states and cities provide grants to businesses, cities, and universities to install charging stations and incorporate EVs into their city vehicle fleets.
The timing of this new data released is perfect. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has been conducting a mid-term review of its 10-state ZEV program, is holding a hearing to conclude this review today. The ZEV program requires automakers to sell increasing numbers of EVs in the participating states. CARB board members, who do not want to shoulder the full ZEV program in only California and who are aware that EV sales are disproportionately in the Golden state, will hear the message loud and clear that it’s not just California that is committed to accelerating the ZEV market, but leaders and residents in Northwest and the Northeast as well. In fact, more than 100 mayors and other local elected officials from these regions signed letters being presented to CARB board members on Friday stating their commitment to a future with electrified transportation and their need for a strong multi-state ZEV program.
These mayors include those from Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut; New Bedford and Somerville, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Albany and Ithaca, New York; Providence, Rhode Island; Portland, Oregon; College Park, Maryland; and many more.
The President of the Boston City Council Michelle Wu said this about why she signed the letter: “The transportation sector fuels 40% of Massachusetts greenhouse gas pollution. This isn’t only problematic for our climate, but for our health too, exacerbating asthma in our children and families. California’s Zero Emission Vehicle standards are helping accelerate clean electric vehicle use and decrease harmful air pollution in the Commonwealth. For the health and safety of our communities, we must keep these standards strong.”
Sierra Club, Environment America, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Plug In America will present these sign on letters at the CARB hearing as well as other letters with a similar message signed by state legislators and leaders in science and the health professions. They will also present petition signatures, signed by more than 10,000 Californians, urging CARB to keep the ZEV regulations strong.
Along with leaders from public interest groups, officials from Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest states are also traveling to California to testify at the CARB hearing. In fact, this week environmental agency directors from the Republican and Democratic-run states of Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to maintain strong federal light duty vehicle regulations and to “leave intact” the authority of California and the other states to create their own stronger vehicle standards. The letter says, “Our states continue to have broad bipartisan support for the authority Congress granted [our states]...to adopt and enforce California standards that are more protective of public health and welfare.”
Meanwhile, automakers say that they are doing everything they can to meet the ZEV regulations, but complain that consumers just don’t want EVs, especially outside of California. We know that to be false. When Sierra Club conducted our Rev Up EVs survey of the consumer EV shopping experience in the 10 ZEV states last year, we found that, despite consumer enthusiasm, automakers and auto dealers are often failing to provide EV inventory, salesperson training, or accurate information about EVs on dealership lots. Some automakers and dealers are excelling in selling EVs. However, frequently, the industry fails to provide information about the thousands of dollars consumers can save from EV rebates, tax credits, and fuel savings, and many dealerships even fail to charge the vehicles and make them available for test drives. A subsequent report showed that automakers are barely bothering to advertise EVs, especially outside of California.
And yet, EV sales in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest are starting to ramp up (despite low gas prices). As a happy EV driver from the Boston area, I’m experiencing this trend first-hand. For the protection of our climate and air quality, and for the ZEV state ability to require automakers to sell us cleaner cars, we owe a great debt to CARB for a strong ZEV program. We’ll continue to be with California as we grow the EV market further and faster in the ZEV states and eventually nationwide.