First it Killed the Electric Car; Now CARB Goes After Plug-in Hybrids

hybrid_tombstone Last week, the East Bay Express published an article regarding the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) plans for aftermarket, plug-in hybrid conversions.

Proving once again that CARB is a political machine with something more than “clean air” in its agenda, the board is set to deal a punishing, bureaucratic body-blow to startup companies like 3 Prong Power and A123 Systems.

It gets worse:  CARB just got carte blanche to do whatever it wants.

Find out what the guys at CARB have to say about the evil of plug-in hybrid cars after the jump (and feel free to guess which corrupt CARB members will have to be bribed in the comments!).

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Before I go too far with the blatant accusations of greed, corruption, and back-room politicking at CARB (is that even possible?) it should be noted that the board claim their new regulations are not intended to stifle new technologies, bankrupt new businesses, or cost the American economy even more jobs.  Instead, CARB says they are trying to ensure that new technology doesn’t roll back their attempts to limit cancer-causing emissions, citing the board’s main function as regulating smog, and not greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Let me say that again, if only for my own benefit:  CARB is supposed to concern itself with harmful vehicle emissions, yet is hell-bent on passing new legislation to effectively shut down at least two startup companies that offer viable, proven products intended to cut back on harmful vehicle emissions.

CARB intends to shutter at least two companies that provide exactly the sort of desirable, competitive jobs that will drive the new “green economy” this nation is essentially depending on to usher in a new era of full employment, environmental responsibility, ecological awareness, energy independence, and a national security policy that does not rely on bombing the middle East back into the stone age.

Details of CARB’s full-scale assault on aftermarket hybrid technology includes forcing the startup companies to put their products through expensive smog tests that could cost as much as $125,000 per car, for however many cars the agency decides it must examine.

It should be noted that, in the past, violation of CARB mandates have led to aftermarket companies being fined up to $10,000 per violation, PER VEHICLE.  The new, draconian CARB law would also require companies to warranty for the changes made to hybrids for up to ten years or 150,000 miles – something that CARB has never requested of anyone, including aftermarket performance tuners like Dinan, Kleemann, and Saleen.

Where CARB may have expressed some reasonable and valid concerns about the safety of plug-in hybrid conversions (how do they hold up in a severe impact, are there any radiation issues, etc.?) its members chose to engage in this bizarre power move, effectively crushing some interesting electric tech before it really has a chance to develop into an ICE-beater… which sounds an awful lot like what happened several years ago, when GM’s EV1 seemed to threaten CARB chairman Alan Lloyd’s precious hydrogen fuel-cell research.

In short: with CARB publicly attacking everything it was originally intended to defend, we have to start seriously questioning its motives.  Only time (or you, in the comments!) will tell what technologies the proposed CARB legislation will eventually benefit… but expect the heavy-hitters on the board to be big stockholders in whatever they turn out to be.

Hint: it’s probably ethanol.  See below.

Exhibit 28-5

Image Credits:  original artwork; pie chart from the State of Texas.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.