Punishing success?: California may change its zero-emissions rules midstream

tesla model s autopilot expected update crash death
California is in a unique position in the worldwide push toward zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). In 1990 California set in place a zero-emission program that mandated specific technologies at dates and times in the future. In the years since its inception nine other states have joined the program. At the time, this looked like audacious goal-setting, but now California would like to up the ante even further.

The current goal set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a 15.4-percent market share for ZEVs by 2025. Now that it looks like the goal will be easily surpassed, the state is considering changing the rules, and some of the car companies that have done the most to promote ZEVs, including Tesla and Honda, are crying foul, according to Bloomberg.

California gave itself the authority in the early ’90s to go way beyond federal standards. Rather than set target pollution levels, they focused on solutions. The ZEV rules require that carmakers sell ZEVs in a specified percentage of their total market share in the state. If they go over the percentage they get credits. If they don’t hit the goals, they have to buy credits. Credits can be sold to carmakers who didn’t reach the market share goals.

Tesla, of course, doesn’t make anything but electric cars, which means it has loads of extra credits. In 2015 Tesla sold 50,658 vehicles around the world and sold $168.7 million in credits in California’s ZEV program and other programs.

Now that Norway and the Netherlands have both set 100-percent ZEV goals for new car sales by 2025 and Germany and even California set goals for 100-percent emission-free markets by 2030, California is giving thought to raising the market share levels and changing the credits system with the current ZEV program.

The 100-percent market share doesn’t bother Tesla, of course, especially given the nice income stream it gets from selling credits to help other carmakers who don’t hit the interim goals. But Tesla could feel shortchanged by changes in the system, depending on how they are instituted.

Dan Sperling, an engineer and scientist from UC Davis on the CARB board, said, “The board could strengthen the mandate by simply raising the number of credits and sales automakers need to comply. Or, conscious that the requirements could be seen as a ‘Tesla subsidy program,’ regulators could limit the credits that any individual automaker can sell.”

Tesla’s vice president of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said that while he supports raising the emissions targets, the idea of capping credit sales is, “an extremely stupid idea: You’d be punishing people who are doing the most to put EVs on the road.”

Honda’s assistant vice president for U.S environmental strategy, Robert Bienenfeld,  said, “It’s a feature of the regulation that you’re required to produce fewer cars if you invest more in technology. It’s bizarre to say we need to make the regulation more stringent because it’s working.”

So under the current ZEV rules, California could end up handing out a lot more credits than it foresaw. The upside is that rather than sell them, companies can also use the credits to invest in clean technology to speed the race to pollution-free vehicles even faster, which was the purpose in the first place.


Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Movies & TV

Here's everything we know about 'John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum'

John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, the third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about it so far.

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.