Killing the CA Economy with AB-32

Russ Steele

The premiss for AB-32, The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is that human emission of CO2 are warming the planet and there is a potential for run-away warming.  The result has been a series of polices to reduce CO2, including this bit of lunacy spelled out in KQED Climate Watch:

California Holds Lead in Clean Car Derby Air Board adopts landmark rules to curb emissions

The California Air Resources Board has unanimously approved sweeping new rules designed to facilitate the transition from gasoline-powered to electric and hydrogen-powered cars. By 2025, automakers are now required to produce 1.4 million “zero-emission” vehicles for the California market, a number that would make clean cars 15 percent of  all new car and truck sales.

The rules also require automakers, by 2025, to halve greenhouse gas emissions emanating from vehicle tailpipes, compared to current levels. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering similar emissions rules, as well as a new fuel economy standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025.


The new rules announced today include the following:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions cuts
    The rules cut greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes 47% by 2025 compared to today’s new cars.
  • Cuts in smog-forming emissions
    Today’s cars are 99% cleaner than cars were in the 1960s. But the new rules reduce smog-forming emissions from tailpipes a further 75% by 2025.
  • Zero-emission vehicle mandate
    Beginning in 2018, automakers must sell increasing numbers of electric cars, hydrogen fuel-cell cars or other cars emitting little to no pollution. By 2025, zero-emission vehicles must make up 15% of new car sales. In the early years of the program, car companies can get credit for plug-in hybrid car sales or for going above and beyond requirements of the greenhouse gas rule.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Stations
    The rules would require gas stations to install hydrogen fueling pumps based on the number of hydrogen fuel-cell cars in the state. The oil companies are negotiating with ARB on a Memorandum of Agreement that would allow them to avoid regulation if they build hydrogen stations with government or private funding.

As for the response from the car industry, at a public meeting this week automakers asked for maximum flexibility in meeting the new sales mandate. They say success will ultimately depend on consumer adoption of the new technology, which includes cars like the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. Of the 10,000 Leafs sold in the US, almost 4,500 of them were sold in California.

Read the above high lighted text, it all depends on consumer adoption. According to Wall Street 24/7 Volt was number 3 in the worst products of the year.

3. Volt Company: General Motors

GM (GM) was originally so excited about the Volt that the company had announced in January it was speeding up its roll-out by six months. But by November the excitement had fizzled out. Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director for vehicle electrification told Reuters, “It’s naive to think that the world is going to switch tomorrow to EVs [electric vehicles].” Indeed, sales for the vehicle have been consistently low.

However, Nissan still leads in overall sale for 2011 so far: 8,720 LEAFs versus 6,142 Volts. It should be noted that about 4,000 of the 6,142 Volts sold were government purchases. Only a little over 2,000 were consumer purchases.  So, how to consumers see the Volt, Leaf and Prius. This is what a 2012 J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Avoider Study found:

  •  Consumers think the Volt costs too much and that’s why a lot of shoppers avoid the plug-in hybrid, according to the study. When people decide to skip over the Leaf or Prius, the most cited reason is the styling is unattractive.
  • Other shoppers said the Volt’s and Leaf’s diminutive cabins and lack of cargo space as reasons to avoid the vehicles. Shoppers don’t like the Prius’ performance, either.
  • For people who like the Volt, the most cited reason is its impact on a person’s image; that’s a good shout-out to Chevrolet’s successful marketing campaign. The most cited reason for buying a Leaf is its low maintenance costs, and for the Prius, its reliability.

CARB is expecting these non-price competitive loosers to be 15% of the car market by 2025.  The only people buying the Volt and Leaf are rich people trying to impress their neighbors and peers, and government employees trying to impress their environmental agency bosses.

I do not think that is 15% of the car buying market. So, how will CARB forces us to buy these looser vehicles?  It took four charges for a Leaf to go in a 180 mile trip in Tenn. By the way there are only about 1,200 charging station in California with a 240 volt outlet to give full charge in 4 hours.

How many of those 240 charging station do we have in Nevada County. Zero according to EV Charging Locator. Two in Auburn and one at the Galleria Mall.   If 15% of all vehicles on are the road are EV, local political leader may want to get with in and start installing those 240 volt charging stations.  If EV user drive to Nevada County from the Valley they are going to need a full charge, which takes 4 hours. In 12 hour period, one stations can only charge 3 vehicles. If we  get a 100 EV visitors for a day visit, that will require about 40 charging station in Grass Valley and Nevada City.

The real issue is that there is no proven connection between global warming and human CO2 emissions, see details at Rebanes Ruminations.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

5 Responses to Killing the CA Economy with AB-32

  1. Russ says:

    Oh no, without any electric cars to buy how will CARB meet the 15% EV sales?

    Reporting from Elkhart, Ind.— For politicians betting on electric vehicles to drive job growth, the view from inside Think City’s plant here is their worst nightmare: 100 unfinished vehicles lined up with no word on whether they will be completed.

    Only two years ago, the tiny Think cars (two can fit in a regular parking space) were expected to bring more than 400 jobs to this ailing city and a lifeline to suppliers who once made parts for gas-guzzling recreational vehicles.

    “We’ve said we’re out to make Indiana the electric vehicle state. It’s beginning to look like the state capital will be Elkhart County,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in January 2010 in announcing government incentives used to attract Think to his state.

    Instead, the Hoosier State’s big bet has been a bust. The plant is devoid of activity; there are just two employees. A Russian investor who recently purchased Think’s bankrupt parent in Norway has been silent about its future. A government-backed Indianapolis battery maker that was to supply Think wrote off a $73-million investment in the car company and Thursday declared bankruptcy. Two unrelated electric truck makers Indiana planned to nurture have yet to get off the ground.

  2. Russ says:

    On the other hand:

    Number of accepted Leaf reservations: 26,000
    – Number of Leaf models sold: 10,000
    – Number sold in January: 800 (estimate)
    – Number sold in February: 800 (estimate, nearly sold out already)

  3. Dixon Cruickshank says:

    You guys may have trouble even buying a car – what if the car companies say its not a big enough market to be bothered with – designing cars ain’t cheap

    kinda like the oil companies being fined for not meeting the bio-fuel ratio as the biofuel doesn’t exist

  4. Russ says:

    Newsmax has this story: Chevrolet Dealers Rejecting Electric Volt

    The electric Chevrolet Volt has been touted by the Obama administration as a major step toward a green future of gas-free vehicles, but one key group is spurning the car: Chevrolet dealers.
    “Dealer ordering is down,” acknowledged General Motors spokesman Rob Peterson, who said many dealers have been waiting for resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s probe into the risk of fires in the car’s battery pack. Three packs caught fire last year following government test crashes.

    GM sold just 7,671 Volts in the United States last year, short of its 10,000-sales target.
    A dealer in Clovis, Calif., Brett Hedrick, sold 10 Volts last year but in the past two months he turned down the six Volts allocated to him by GM. He told Automotive News that GM “thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy. We’ve never sold more than two in a month.”

    Another dealer on the East Coast said he agreed to accept the five Volts that GM allocated to him this month even though he has seen a “huge drop-off” in customer interest.
    “I probably should have taken only one,” he told the News.

    The Insider Report disclosed three weeks ago that the Volt won the dubious distinction of being named one of the “Worst Product Flops of 2011” by Yahoo! Finance.

    Commenting on the Yahoo! report, the National Legal and Policy Center stated: “The Obama administrations’ favorite car has had a rough time of late with sales goals not being met” and “media exposure of the high cost to taxpayers regarding Chevy Volt subsidies.”

    “Considering all the money spent by GM to hype the vehicle, the Worst Flop award is well-deserved.”
    Volt buyers receive a $7,500 subsidy from taxpayers.

    It does not appear that CARB’s “Demand it and it will happen” strategy is working?

  5. Sean says:

    What proportion of the leaf sales are in CA? I would bet that it is substantially more than half and the HOV lane privileges may be one of the biggest incentives. Time is a very valuable commodity. Also, most of the smog in the inland valleys comes from cars driven on congested roads on the coast. Electrifying liberals might actually benefit places like Nevada county wrt ozone as well as benefit the San Joaquin valley and the inland empire where I was raised. I have no idea if CA’s 15% target is realistic and I don’t even think appropriate but I do relish the thought of the green zealots on the coast bearing the cost for cleaning the air inland.

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