On Thursday, California’s Air Resources Board had a meeting and status update on the state’s ‘Zero Emission Vehicle’ (ZEV) program where industry actors expressed their views on the clean vehicle market and the ZEV credit mandate. During a presentation to the board, Tesla’s Vice President of Business Development Diarmuid O’Connell argued that lobbying efforts from automakers effectively delayed fuel economy in the U.S. by about 20 years.

He added that the automotive industry used similar lobbying tactics to delay the commercialization of Zero Emission Vehicles. He said the effort delayed the state of California’s initial 1998 goal of 2% market penetration by 16 years – Zero Emission vehicles only reached 2% of the market in 2014. The Tesla executive supported his claims with the following charts:

Pictures by EV advocate Chelsea Sexton

Tesla’s presentation comes just a few weeks after Governor Jerry Brown announced that California Democratic lawmakers abandoned the drastic fuel economy provision from the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act, which Senate Democratic Leader Kevin De Leon attributed to pressure from a lobbying effort from the oil industry:

“We could not cut through the multi-million dollar smoke screen created by a single interest group with a singular motive and a bottomless war chest”

Consumer Watchdog said the oil industry’s campaign contained “fraudulent information” and asked the California Attorney General to investigate the lobbying group.

Going back to Tesla’s presentation, O’Connell referred to the current state of the ZEV mandate as “fundamentally too weak”.

The executive argued that under the current requirements, the state of California would only require to add 42,000 ZEVs in 2025, while Tesla plans to deliver alone over 40,000 vehicles per year in the state by 2020.

He added that Tesla recommends a quadrupling of the current requirements. O’Connell highlighted that charging infrastructure can also help and that the state should focus on incentives for businesses to add charging options.

Tesla’s Vice President said that to lead in the mass adoption of electric vehicles, we should look at Norway, where he said incentives give back to buyers “about 50%” of the value of the vehicle.

Over 20% of new car sales are electric in Norway. The country is transitioning its fleet to electric faster than any country on earth.

You can watch O’Connell’s complete presentation here:

…and the whole 5+ hour California EPA Air Resources board meeting here:



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