Release 96-4

For Immediate Release                                                        Contacts: Daven Oswalt
Thursday, February 8, 1996                                                                    (916) 327-6247
                                                                                                               Jerry Martin
                                                                                                               (916) 322-2990
                                                                                                               www.arb.ca.gov

ARB Announces Proposed Agreement with Automakers for Zero Emission Vehicles

(Sacramento)      The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today announced that an agreement has been reached between the ARB and seven major auto manufacturers that provides a road map to put more than 800,000 new zero emission vehicles on California roads by 2010 and bring California s low emission vehicles to all states three years earlier than current federal regulations.

        The agreement, which takes the form of a binding and enforceable contract between the ARB and each auto manufacturer, will provide more flexibility than the current regulation. The agreement also assures greater reductions in emissions compared to current regulatory requirements.

        As part of the agreement, automakers have committed to introduce electric vehicles as early as this year. In addition, auto manufacturers will supply between 1998 and 2000, as many as 3750 advanced technology vehicles with ranges of more than 100 miles. In addition, the regulatory requirement that 1 in 10 vehicles offered for sale in 2003 have zero emissions will remain in place.

        John Dunlap, ARB Chairman said, "We are very pleased that we've been able to forge a market-driven agreement that protects clean air for all Californians and helps assure the successful launch of electric vehicles that people will want to buy.

        "The ARB staff has worked hard to develop a plan that provides pollution reductions which exceed those which would have been gained under the current ZEV rule, while allowing automakers the flexibility they need to successfully market these new cars. We think that we have an agreement that can be favorably considered by the Board at its March hearing," Dunlap added.

        A strong enforcement measure has been agreed to by both parties which illustrates the automakers commitment to the production of electric vehicles. Under the new agreement, an automaker s failure to fulfill its obligation could result in substantial financial damages and reinstatement of the current 1998 and 2001 production requirements.

        Other elements of the new market-driven program include:

        * a technology development partnership between the ARB and automakers that will further accelerate commercialization of advanced batteries and zero emission vehicle technology,
        * a requirement for automakers to report their progress on developing and marketing ZEV s each year,

CLEANER CARS NATIONWIDE

        The proposed agreement states that auto manufacturers will produce and sell nationwide, cars and light trucks which emit at levels equivalent to California Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards beginning in 2001--3 years before the earliest date US EPA is set to adopt such standards. This California LEV emits about 70 percent less than new cars currently being sold in other states. Not only is this agreement good for California, but by working with the automakers to introduce cleaner cars at least three years earlier than expected, we have helped provide an air quality premium for the rest of the nation, stated Dunlap.

        Statistics show that about twenty percent of vehicles registered in California were originally purchased in other states. Since some of these new LEV s will eventually register in California, their lower emission will more than offset any loss of emissions reductions that may result if introduction of ZEV s proceeds at a slower pace than required under current regulations. The ARB is scheduled to hear the staff's recommendations for improvements to the current rule at a public hearing on March 28, 1996, at the Board s Sacramento headquarters.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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