The California Air Resource Board...presumably an agency with a vested interest in advancing vehicle technology, might be about to push a clean-tech start-up into bankruptcy. What the frik is going on here?
There are two kinds of plug-in hybrids right now...the kind you can get, and the kind you can't get. The kind you can't get are built by large automakers like Toyota and GM...you should be able to get them in a few years...but right now, they simply aren't for sale.
The kind you actually can get are the sort that are built on top of an existing vehicle architecture (generally a Prius) and sold as upgrade kits by companies like 3ProngPower or Hymotion. These kits have become more prevalent in recent years, and can make a regular Prius look like a gas guzzler. We love these mod kits, even though they're expensive and impractical for most people.
We love them because they create a small initial market for battery and power-management technologies that would otherwise not find their way into vehicles at all. We love it because it shows car companies that there's a market for these new technologies. And We also just kinda love the spirit of the whole thing...geeks making geeky cars greener, how could anyone argue with that.
Well, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) isn't a big fan actually. They think that these modded cars should have to live up to all the same regulations as a new vehicle entering the market. So they're thinking about requiring start-ups funded out of the pockets of the owners to pay for $200,000 in emissions tests.
This is ridiculous, for two reasons. First, this is a clean technology based on a freaking Toyota Prius...I don't care how many tests they require, they're going to find that these cars are cleaner than you average Californian's SUV.
Second, there's simply no way that the market for these products is going to be large enough to make a difference to California's air quality. We're talking about, maximum, four-figure sales here. This technology isn't going to replace the internal combustion engine and, if it actually starts to, then they can regulate it.
In the meantime, how about we let the people who really want plug-in hybrids NOW buy the plug-in hybrids that they can get, and not regulate start-ups into nonexistence before their products even hit the market.
Via the EastBayExpress
written by Mark Bartosik, January 20, 2009
written by Chris, January 20, 2009
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