Former NHTSA chief Cliff: Return to CARB ‘irresistible’


Automakers will be allowed to meet no more than 20 percent of their overall ZEV requirement with plug-in hybrids, the board said.

“The rules are actually very consistent with the goals laid out by automakers,” said Cliff, citing commitments from General Motors and other manufacturers to electrify their new-vehicle lineups within a certain time frame.

For new-car dealers, Cliff said there’s now a greater opportunity to be seen as electric-vehicle leaders, especially as other states consider whether to adopt California’s more stringent rules.

“If they can get out in front, learn about the technology, be seen as leaders in their community, as those who are knowledgeable about the technology … they can get a real reputation as the go-to place for electric vehicles,” he said.

The rules also are more aggressive than President Joe Biden’s nonbinding target to reach 50 percent new ZEV sales by the end of the decade. In California, ZEVs will need to make up 68 percent of new-vehicle sales by 2030.

When asked whether the results of this year’s upcoming midterm election and 2024’s presidential election could again threaten California’s ability to set tougher regulations, Cliff said the law, technology and technical analysis are on CARB’s side.

“We always have to keep an eye on the future,” he said. “What I think is very clear in the law is we have the authority because of our unique air quality challenges here in California … to continue to set rules that are more stringent than the federal government. There is no case to be made that these aren’t achievable.”


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