General Motors may lose as much as $9,000 per vehicle when it begins producing its new Chevrolet Bolt electric car. But with nearly 30% of the U.S. auto market in states that have set sales targets for non-polluting vehicles, that’s pretty much the price of doing business, Bloomberg Markets reports.
California was first to adopt what it calls a “no pain, no gain” doctrine, requiring non-polluting vehicle quotas for any automaker that wants to sell into the state that is the world’s sixth-biggest economy. Nine other states, including New York and New Jersey, have since followed suit.
“That goes a long way to explaining why zero-emissions models from more than 10 brands are on the roads, with more on the way,” Bloomberg notes. “Most are destined to be loaded with red ink for their makers, but they’ll be great deals for consumers as companies unload them to meet their targets.”
Even if the Trump administration dilutes federal vehicle standards, California won’t be stepping away from its energy and climate commitments anytime soon. “California will continue to act as the ballast, as the center of gravity, for clean air and climate policies in the U.S.,” said auto technology author Levi Tillemann. “Trump will thrust the state back into the role of clean air crusader, and that’s a banner a lot of people in California don’t mind carrying.’’
Bloomberg says the situation in California may get “ludicrous” once the state standard toughens to the point where zero-emission, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell cars must constitute 40% of a company’s sales. Then again, the business news agency allows as how “the industry might figure out how to make ZEVs into money makers, once the charging station infrastructure is built out and as battery costs fall. Global demand seems sure to rise, with major economies, including China, having recognized climate change as a threat and tailpipe emissions from gas-powered autos as a chief contributor.”