CARB’s BEVx to automakers: You don’t understand plug-in cars
Leaf, Plug-in Prius, and Volt all bad by design?
Not surprisingly the California Air Resources Board unanimously passed its Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program for the technological requirements to meet emission requirements from 2015 – 2025. Under the plan, for instance, 1 out of 7 cars, or 15 percent of car sales, must be zero emission vehicles by 2025.
While the aggressive goals are an interesting conversation in and of themselves, what’s perhaps even more interesting is the new kind of plug-in that CARB is now expecting automakers to develop, the BEVx. Apparently, as far as CARB is concerned, technologies such as the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius plug-in, and the Chevy Volt, just aren’t good enough.
As a result, the BEVx is a plug-in electric vehicle that offers an auxiliary power unit, or APU, that provides a gasoline powered range extending unit. However, this concept varies greatly form the Chevy Volt, another range extended electric vehicle. Unlike the Volt, the APU is not intended to provide long range or full power. It’s essentially the most minimal emergency option — cheapest — for dealing with range anxiety. Think of it as an emergency limp mode.
Ultimately, through 2025 CARB anticipates that both the costs of of zero emission vehicles and limited range will prevent the ACC’s goals of 1 in 7 plug-in sales by 2025. Thus, they propose that a BEVx can be the solution.
Interestingly, automakers already aren’t very supportive of CARB, and now that CARB is developing automotive concepts that it expects automakers to embrace is only going to create even more tension I’m sure.
Regardless, I can’t help but wonder, is CARB really that smart?
For instance, the wave generator hybrid offers a potentially cheap way to radically change the market place. While such a technology doesn’t provide zero emissions, if such a technology powered all light transportation vehicles in California by 2025, might it not achieve more than ACC, both faster and cheaper? And if not a wave hybrid, isn’t is possible that some other disruptive technology could significantly disrupt the industry in the next 13 years?
Maybe not, but should CARB be at all focused on technological requirements? If regulators aren’t just going to tell automakers what their emissions requirements are, but also tell them what kinds and how many vehicles to produce, even conceptualizing technological platforms, is it time for the government to take over the auto industry?
Or maybe the government should create contracts for the BEVx as it does F-15 fighters?
Certainly, CARB’s focus on emission’s regulations themselves seems a right inherent to such a regulatory body, but can their expertise really extend so far as to propose how automakers go about the business of conceptualizing, developing, and producing cars for 2025 and beyond?
Can’t wait to see how the auto industry responds. Minimally, this should provide a good and healthy debate, because it’s beyond obvious that the status quo certainly isn’t the right direction.