Current California auto emissions policies seek to achieve a 20 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030, according to CARB. Those rules are aligned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) tailpipe emissions rules and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) corporate average fuel economy regulations, allowing auto makers to sell the same vehicles with the same emissions-control technologies in all 50 states.
That's one reason why the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington trade group whose 12 members include the Detroit 3, opposes the pending California bill as it stands. The trade group says enactment of the bill would disrupt the alignment of state and federal standards, and would “prejudice” the midterm review of the national plan to boost average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg in the 2025 model year.
“A unified national program has created the regulatory environment in which our industry's renaissance has occurred. SB 350 may jeopardize this effort.” — Curt Augustine, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
“A unified national program has created the regulatory environment in which our industry's renaissance has occurred,” Curt Augustine, the trade group's director of policy and government affairs, wrote in a letter to California state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who wrote the bill. “SB 350 may jeopardize this effort.”
The Association of Global Automakers, which represents 12 auto makers including Honda, Nissan and Hyundai-Kia, stopped short of opposing the bill, but has expressed concerns.
Current state policy requires that zero-emission vehicles such as hydrogen fuel cell or battery electric cars account for 15 percent of California auto sales by 2025. In an Aug. 17 letter to Mr. de Leon, Damon Shelby Porter, Global Automakers' director of state government relations, wrote that the bill's call for a 50 percent reduction in oil use could be achieved only if all cars sold in California in 2030 were zero-emission vehicles.
“Global uto makers believes that is a laudable but unattainable goal,” Mr. Porter wrote.
Roland Hwang, director of the energy and transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, says the industry's fears are overblown.
He said the reduced oil consumption could also come from more efficient movement of freight, city planning efforts to reduce congestion, car sharing and other mobility initiatives, not just tougher auto emissions rules.
“We believe that it's doable,” Mr. Hwang said. “We've barely begun to scratch the surface on all of these other options that are not vehicle-standard related.”
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.