This Week’s Top 10: California climate change measure double-joined to second bill, Tesla adds 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. SacramentoCalifornia climate change bill: Legislation extending California’s climate change law through 2030 narrowly passed in the Assembly, but its future depends on the approval of another bill. Advocates for the state’s climate change law scored a major victory yesterday with the passage of Senate Bill 32 introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that extends the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; however, it is contingent on passage of Assembly Bill 197 and on approval in the state senate. AB 197, introduced by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), would increase legislative oversight of the California Air Resources Board. It also has language that makes it contingent on Pavley’s bill. The two bills are “double-joined,” meaning that both bills need to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown to take effect. Oil companies are putting pressure on legislators to change the AB 197 wording, with portions of the bill targeted at slashing emissions from local refineries and manufacturers. SB 32 has been seen as a crucial step for reauthorizing the state’s cap-and-trade program. The bill now requires a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. The current climate law, AB 32, required the state to reach 1990 levels by 2020. CALSTART released a statement supporting passage of SB 32 as an engine for moving clean transportation, and advanced vehicles and components, forward.
  2. Tesla battery upgrade: Tesla Motors is adding a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack for both the Model S sedan and Model X crossover. The Model S P100D will now have an EPA-estimated 315 miles of range, an increase of 45 miles over the P90D. The Model S P100D Price will begin at $134,500, and X P100D will start at $135, 500. It’s available for order immediately and due for deliveries starting in September
  3. Next step in commercial truck rules: Manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and cargo vans are required to follow federal regulations on reducing carbon greenhouse gas emissions in three phases by 2027. It the latest step in a multi-year process designed to cut carbon emissions by about 1.1 billion metric tons over the vehicle’s lifecycle; that equates to about a 25% reduction compared to current standards. “This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond,” said Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  4. Bill on California HOV lane stickers: Plug In America expressed concern over another California bill, which could hurt adoption of electric vehicles. Assembly Bill 1964 would remove the limit of 85,000 green HOV decals for plug-in hybrid vehicles to access the HOV carpool lane. Those who purchase an EV between January 2018 and January 2019 will have access to the HOV lane until January 2021, and those who purchase after January 2019 will also have access for three years. This gives anyone purchasing a PHEV some certainty that a green decal will be available and they can use the HOV lane. Plug In America is concerned that the bill only extends the green HOV decal program for PHEVs, but not the white decal program for pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs). If nothing changes in the proposed legislation, drivers of BEVs will not be allowed to access the HOV lane after January 1, 2019. The organization is encouraging those concerned to take action on the bill.
  5. PEV sales in Europe: The European plug-in electrified vehicle market saw a 21% increase in the first six months of this year compared to that same period last year, according to EV Obsession and CleanTechnica partner EV Volumes, with 91,300 PEVs sold. In June, the best selling model was the Renault Zoe held the top spot in June, which made up 14.2% of all PEV sales in Europe. This was followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (10.2%), the Nissan Leaf (9.3%), and the Tesla Model S (8.7%).
  6. Tesla state battles: Tesla Motors is focusing on the state of Utah, where last year a bill intended to give the electric carmaker the right to sell its vehicles in the state stalled out after a series of compromises. State legislator Kim Coleman had led the drive, but so many amendments had been added to it that Tesla withdrew its support and the bill was voted down. Lawmakers and a dealer association are continuing to debate the issue of Tesla being allowed to have sales presence in the state. In Alabama, as state senators has filed a proposed a bill that would “allow a manufacturer of alternative fuel vehicles to sell and lease its vehicles directly to the public.” That would apply to Tesla and other manufacturers of vehicles fueled by electricity, natural gas, or propane. Direct sales are considered “an unfair and deceptive trade practice” in the state. Tesla’s sales are also banned in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Connecticut, Utah, and West Virginia.
  7. CityAirbus ridesharing: Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is developing CityAirbus that will transport riders out of crowded cities via the sky. Short air trips will cost about as much as a taxi ride for each passenger. The first test run for CityAirbus will start in late 2017. Passengers can board the multi-propeller aircraft by using a mobile phone app, then going to a nearby helipad to catch the next ride. Airbus says it will offer avoidance of traffic congested areas, and it will be faster and more sustainable than what’s out there now.
  8. RNG in NYC refuse fleet: Robert Catell, former chairman of National Grid, US, and Joanna Underwood, chairwoman of Energy Vision, wrote a commentary piece for the New York Times, making a case for renewable natural gas. New York City’s Department of Sanitation plans to buy 340 new trash trucks this year, with at least 300 powered by diesel engines. Its 5,200 heavy-duty diesel trucks make up a fifth of the fleet, yet emit more than 60% of its greenhouse gas emissions. RNG comes from biogases emitted by decomposing organic waste, offering significant emissions reductions from fuel that can be sourced within the city.
  9. Lease programs on Model S and X: Tesla Motors has announced two-year lease programs on the Model S (for $593 a month) and the Model X ($730 a month) for their cheapest, starting price versions. There will be a hefty down payment – $6,000 for both models. There’s also a $695 acquisition fee and a month’s lease payment due when taking delivery of the car. There’s a 10,000 miles per year cap on the lease, unless you pay more for a 12,000 or 15,000 mile cap.
  10. Another Chinese startup: Chinese air-conditioning manufacturer Gree will be investing $2 billion to buy Zhuhai Yinlong New Energy Co., company that builds electric buses, lithium batteries, and drivetrain components. Yinlong has been manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles since 2009 and also builds drive trains for EVs and hybrids. The Chinese automaker says that it has seven electric cars in the development phase, but so far has focused on building electric buses. Gree is one of many companies making the purchase in order to support the Chinese government’s “new energy vehicles” program to clean up the environment and promote new, advanced technologies.