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Calif. car emissions rules may soon be toughest in US

January 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Air Resources Board met Thursday in downtown Los Angeles to decide on new rules about zero-emissions vehicles.

The goal is to make one out of every seven new cars sold in California a zero-emission vehicle, such as hydrogen powered or electric, by 2025.

"We have to take all of the carbon emissions or most of the carbon emissions out of the light-duty vehicle sector, and the only way to do that is to move vehicles to electric drive, which are battery or fuel cell vehicles," said the Air Resources Board's Tom Cackette.

The regulations that the California Air Resources Board proposed are challenging, and would be the toughest in the nation.

But some think the plan might be unrealistic. The Car Dealers Association said hybrid vehicles have been sold for 13 years in California and still only make up about 4 percent of the market.

The new regulations would make new cars more expensive, raising the average cost by about $1,900 dollars.

However, Cackette thinks the money that would be saved in gasoline for zero-emissions vehicles would be beneficial.

"If you plug in battery electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle, the gasoline is $1 a gallon. That looks pretty attractive compared to $4 at the pump," he said.

Carmakers at the meeting generally support the new regulations. Andreas Klugescheid from BMW says his company already has zero emission vehicles.

"We are optimistic that there is a chance to achieve that goal, but we are also very much aware that we need to meet all these technologies succeed in the marketplace and find customers for these green and clean vehicles," said Klugescheid.

The new emissions standards kick in very quickly, beginning with new cars sold in the year 2015, and getting tougher with a 75 percent reduction in smog emissions by 2025