California Electric-Vehicle Rule Dropped

In September 1990, California announced that 2 percent of all vehicles the large car
companies sold in the state had to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), rising to 10 percent
by this year. At the time, battery-power vehicles were the only way to comply. GM, Ford and
Chrysler even offered electric golf carts and low-speed electric vehicles like TH!NK
Neighbor and Chrysler’s GEM vehicles to housing communities and colleges to meet the rule.
Automakers saw no future for battery-powered vehicles for highway driving and eventually
blocked the law through lawsuits. That 13-year battle appears to be over; automakers and
California officials have agreed to drop lawsuits, instead putting hundreds of thousands of
ultra-clean gas-engine cars on the road in a few years, along with gas-electric hybrid
power and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. As part of the agreement, the California Air
Resources Board’s clean-air regulations that were to have begun this year will go into
effect in 2005.

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