March 2008 Archives

Open Letter to CARB

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The California Air Resources Board seems poised to cave into big auto pressure and gut their mandate for zero emissions vehicles. This blog from Tesla Motors that explains the situation.

Basically, the staff recommendation is to lower requirements on the big auto makers to levels that are likely to be met by tiny Tesla Motors all on their own, and likely to be blown away if any of the other promising ZEV startups deliver a small fraction of what they are promising.

You can express your opinion to the CARB through this web form.

Here's the letter I sent them...

To the California Air Resources Board

The big auto companies have no excuse for not developing vehicles which are more friendly to the environment.

Energy efficient vehicles are popular with consumers. Next time you go for a drive, just count how many times you see a Toyota Prius.

ZEV vehicles are technologically viable today. In response to previous CARB mandates, the big auto makers proved that ZEV vehicles can be developed and sold in quantity to consumers who want them. Witness the GM EV-1, the RAV-4 EV and the Chevy S-10 EV. The big auto companies produced these cars, sold them to a fraction of the consumers who wanted them and did everything in their power to hide and un-popularize them. This is well documented in the film "Who Killed the Electric Car." I personally know people who are still using the RAV4-EV and S-10 EV without any manufacturer support. These are awesome vehicles, loved by their owners and in high demand, with used vehicles selling for more than their original selling prices in many cases.

Recently Tesla Motors has started regular production of a fully safety-approved, highway-capable EV that has pre-booked orders approaching the numbers mandated by the watered-down CARB ISOR for the time period 2012-2014.

That a tiny startup company can be ready to produce 1800+ ZEVs in 2009 proves that the big auto companies can easily produce far more in the 2012-2014 timeframe, even 25,000 seems like too low a number to really push the auto industry to do their part to improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions.

My wife and I will be Tesla owner number 241. We have driven one of their late evaluation prototype vehicles, and I assure you this vehicle is quite real. We will gladly replace our Acura NSX-T with the Tesla Roadster, a high-end sports car that is cost competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles in the same performance category.

Tesla Motors will use the experience gained from producing this expensive, low-volume vehicle to design and produce their next vehicle in the much larger $50,000 to $70,000 sports sedan market in 2010. I expect they will have a ZEV in the $30,000 price range shipping upwards of 300,000 vehicles by 2012.

Tesla Motors alone is likely to far exceed CARBs embarrassingly small demands on the big auto makers. Now is the time to increase the pressure on the big auto makers rather than reduce the CARB mandate to less than what the market is clearly already demanding.

Tesla Motors is just the first of several promising companies to start regular production of ZEVs. Aptera, Miles Electric, and Phoenix Electric all have credible plans to produce safe, highway capable ZEVs in the 2009 to 2010 time frame.

Many other companies are working in ZEV market segment, as are many dedicated enthusiasts who are converting ICE vehicles to ZEV electric vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board has an opportunity to push the auto industry toward reasonable environmental progress. Please do so.

Tom Saxton

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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