A long lasting battle between carmakers and the US federal regulators about the best way of promoting electric vehicles burst open on Tuesday, as the future of automotive technology could hang in balance.
The leaders of two important auto industry lobby groups have said in front of numerous audiences at an industry conference in Traverse City, Michigan, that automakers have massive issues when trying to follow the California target of lifting sales of electric cars to 15 percent of all deliveries by 2025. And the Obama administration renewed efforts to fight greenhouse gas omissions from vehicles have prompted nine other US states to impose the same green mandate as California. And Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development at Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley automaker that only produces electric cars, said the current rules are actually not tough enough. The electric carmaker is also reaping massive profits from selling the clean air credits generated by purchases of its Model S sedans. A senior official from California’s clean air regulatory agency said the state will not budge from its mandate and he was supported by the chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.
But Mitch Bainwol, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a representative of the Detroit three and other major Asian and European carmakers, said the recent galloping pace of sport-utility vehicle and light truck sales has brought new industry woes about the electric vehicle targets. “The product mix is drifting away” from the green mandates, commented Bainwol. Forrest McConnell, former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, was supportive, saying the green targets were like imposing the consumption of broccoli to people that want low-calorie doughnuts.