I believe that the majority of New Yorkers are unaware of the ramifications of regulations implementing control programs for the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (Climate Act) emission reduction mandates. This post describes one regulation that will affect most New Yorkers but has not received as much attention as I would have thought. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently adopted amendments to 6 NYCRR Section 200.9 and 6 NYCRR Part 218 will incorporate California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulation that require increasing annual zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales requirements starting at 35% in model year 2026 and increasing to 100% by model year 2035.
I have been following the Climate Act since it was first proposed, submitted comments on the Climate Act implementation plan, and have written over 300 articles about New York’s net-zero transition. I have devoted a lot of time to the Climate Act because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.
Climate Act Background
The Climate Act established a New York “Net Zero” target (85% reduction and 15% offset of emissions) by 2050 and an interim 2030 reduction target of a 40% reduction by 2030. The Climate Action Council is responsible for preparing the Scoping Plan that outlines how to “achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda.” In brief, that plan is to electrify everything possible and power the electric grid with zero-emissions generating resources. The Integration Analysis prepared by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its consultants quantifies the impact of the electrification strategies. That material was used to write a Draft Scoping Plan. After a year-long review the Scoping Plan recommendations were finalized at the end of 2022. In 2023 the Scoping Plan recommendations are supposed to be implemented through regulation and legislation. This regulation is an example: “The amendments are also consistent with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Chapter 106 of the Laws of 2019, as well as legislative requirement for all new, light-duty vehicle sales to 100% ZEV by 2035, Chapter 423 of the Laws of 2021, to further reduce greenhouse emissions in New York State.”
Advanced Clean Cars Regulation
One problem for the public as regulations and legislation are proposed and enacted is that the regulatory action language is dense and unclear. The DEC description of this rulemaking is a good example:
This notice is continuation of the Proposed/Emergency Rulemaking of the same title that was adopted and effective on December 13, 2022 and published in the State Register on December 28, 2022. Emergency Rulemaking – Parts 200, General Provisions, and 218, Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Engines. The emergency rulemaking will incorporate the State of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulation. The proposed amendments establish new zero emission vehicle (ZEV) and low emission vehicle (LEV IV) standards intended to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) and NMOG + NOx (non-methane organic gas + oxides of nitrogen) emissions from light- and medium-duty on-road vehicles.
The ZEV amendments include an annual ZEV sales requirement for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), minimum technical requirements, ZEV assurance measures, regulatory flexibilities, and simplified credit accounting. The proposed ZEV amendments will apply to 2026 and subsequent model year light-duty passenger cars (PC), light-duty trucks (LDT), and medium-duty passenger vehicles (MDPV). Starting with model year 2026, OEMs, will be required to deliver an increasing annual percentage of their sales that are ZEVs or PHEVs. This percentage requirement will start at 35% in model year 2026 and increase to 100% of sales for 2035 and subsequent model years. The proposed LEV IV amendments will apply to 2026 and subsequent model year PC, LDT, and medium-duty vehicles (MDV).
Advanced Clean Cars for the Public
I think that the biggest unappreciated impact to the public will be the sales percentage mandates for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). Buried in the regulatory documents there is a pretty straigh-forward explanation. On page 4 of the July 26, 2023 State Register (page 14 of the pdf file) the sales mandates are described:
Starting with model year 2026, OEMs, will be required to deliver an increasing annual percentage of their sales that are ZEVs or PHEVs. This percentage requirement will start at 35% in model year 2026 and increase to 100% of sales for 2035 and subsequent model years.
PHEVs may be used to meet up to 20% of the annual ZEV requirement and they must meet minimum technical requirements. The use of PHEVs to meet part of the annual ZEV requirement will sunset following the 2035 model year.
ZEVs and PHEVs will be required to meet minimum technical requirements to earn ZEV values under ACC II. ZEVs must have a minimum all electric range (AER) of at least 150 miles and PHEVs must have a minimum AER of 50 miles and be capable of doing at least 40 miles on an aggressive drive cycle. ZEVs and PHEVs must also meet the ZEV assurance measures to be eligible to earn ZEV values. PHEVs must also be certified to super ultra-low emission vehicle (SULEV) standards and be covered by a 15 year or 150,000 mile warranty
The proposed ACC II ZEV amendments include ZEV assurance measures consisting of durability, warranty, service information/ standardized data parameters, and battery label requirements. The ZEV assurance measures will ensure that ZEVs retain functionality and reliability as internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) are transitioned out of the on-road fleet.
Reactions to Advanced Clean Cars
The Big Green NGOs support this program to mitigate climate change. The NRDC claims “Transitioning to a zero-emission transportation system, therefore, is one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change, improve air quality and health almost everywhere, and make the total cost of car ownership lower and more predictable.” The Sierra Club says “One policy that has pushed EVs to become more affordable and easier to purchase is the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC2) Rule, also known as the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Standard.”
While I am sure that there are people who agree with these organizations, I believe that the majority do not. According to the NYSERDA Electric Vehicle Registration Map there were 155,988 electric vehicles on the road in New York as of July 2, 2023. There are on the order of 11.5 million vehicles registered in New York so electric vehicles account for about 1.5% of the vehicles in the state. The following table lists the number of new EV registrations per year. EV proponents point to the increasing sales but, given the tremendous marketing effort for EVs I do not these numbers represent an endorsement for electric vehicles where it counts.
The reality is that there are issues with EVs. I have set up a background page that provides links to articles describing some of those issues. I am going to describe a couple of recent articles here that list some of my concerns.
Both articles address the obvious issue. What if people like me don’t want to buy a battery electric vehicle because of range limitations, home infrastructure concerns, and worries about the morality of the supply chain of rare earth metals. The first article notes that Unsold Electric Cars May Be Signaling A Death Spiral For The Auto Industry. Ronald Stein lists reasons why people are not purchasing EVs and points out that EV inventories are rising. He also points out that the used car market is important but that the EV used car market is non-existent. Anecdotally, a friend of mine in the car business says that used Evs are not selling because of lemon laws and worries about battery replacement.
The other article by Terry Etam, The Potential Looming Auto Industry Fiasco, takes a big picture look at what lies ahead for the auto industry. He notes that:
In the second quarter of 2023, Ford lost $72,000 on every EV sold. While the latter is ‘sort of’ normal for new car platforms – and Evs are nothing if not new platforms – what isn’t normal is for highly-touted/media-frenzy revolutionary new autos like the Ford Mustang Mach E EV to be selling under 3,000 units per month in the US as it is in 2023, two years after introduction (US sales peaked over 5,000 units per month shortly after introduction). In the second quarter of 2023, Ford sold 14,843 Evs (out of 513,662 vehicles sold by the company overall), a fairly meagre total considering the capital invested and the marketing campaigns. In the minds of most consumers, it seems an EV means a Tesla, and there is scant interest in anything else no matter the marketing hyperbole.
Etam brings up another point that is a concern of mine. Evs are so expensive that the low- and middle- income residents of disadvantaged communities will have a tough time buying one. He explains:
In case anyone cares, and it doesn’t seem that they do when energy transitions are discussed, this will all work out the absolute worst for lower income people. Ordinarily, the auto market provides options for lower economic classes with vehicles that are no longer in favour. For example, in periods of high gasoline prices, consumers that can afford to switch up will tend to go for more fuel efficient vehicles, and the market can get flooded with inefficient ones – which has the effect of pushing down prices of these out of favour beasts, putting them within reach of poorer people. The fuel costs may be higher, but at least they can buy wheels.
That likely won’t happen this time around, if we see people buy ICE vehicles and then hoard them for as long as they can. In fact, things are terrible already for lower income people looking to buy older used cars – prices have skyrocketed for those as well.
Used cars are expensive, new cars are hideously more so, and Evs are, thus far, mostly toys of the wealthy with multi-car garages, or well paid urbanites that can afford to use them where they really shine. Again, we can see where China is twelve steps ahead; many popular Evs in China are tiny, cheap EV runabouts that don’t have massive range, but get the job done. No such option is available here in North America, few in Europe, and if they do show up on these shores, it is a safe bet they will be of Chinese origin, because they’re the only ones that can make money at it.
New York Reality
I took a quick look at the numbers to see if the Advanced Clean Car regulations in New York that require a certain percentage of new vehicle sales that are ZEVs or PHEVs have realistic targets. The requirements are:
This percentage requirement will start at 35% in model year 2026 and increase to 100% of sales for 2035 and subsequent model years. PHEVs may be used to meet up to 20% of the annual ZEV requirement and they must meet minimum technical requirements. The use of PHEVs to meet part of the annual ZEV requirement will sunset following the 2035 model year.
Where is the state now relative to these mandates? At one time it would have been relatively easy to get the necessary data to determine the status. However, the NY Department of Motor Vehicles no longer provides historical registration and new vehicle registration summary information. Instead the primary New York registration information through Data.NY.Gov is a data dump of 12.5 million rows of registrations. Completely worthless without a lot of processing and I don’t think it includes any historical information. There is Data.NY.Gov source of summary registration by fuel type and county data.
In order to estimate the EV percentage of new car sales I needed the number of vehicles sold in New York. I could not find that data but did find data for the United States. I assumed that the percentage of new car sales in New York would be the same as the percentage of the country. I found a source for United State motor vehicle registrations that included state data. The following table lists country-wide and New York registrations by vehicle type. I lumped all the registrations together for this analysis.
For new car sales I found data for the country. I estimated the New York new car sales as the same percentage of new sales to total registrations for the country. The following table lists those results. Because I did not have registration data after 2019, I assumed the New York sales would equal the 5-year average for 2019 and subsequent years (highlighted in yellow).
I previously listed the EV registration data for New York. The following table includes a projection of sales needed for model year 2026. These assumptions show that the idea that New York will be able to meet the Advanced Clean Car rule 2026 mandate is preposterous. In 2023 I estimate that 8.6% of the vehicle sold will be EVs. Note that PHEVs made up around 50% of the sales in 2022 but that starting in 2026 that percentage needs to be lowered to 20%. I interpolated where we are in 2023 to 2026 and the increase in sales of EVs is not likely. To think that in 2025 that EV sales will be larger than the number of EVs currently on the road is nothing but wishful thinking.
The State Register notice describes the public comments:
Most of the more than 4,400 commenters including vehicle manufacturers, environmental groups, and non-governmental organizations supported the Department’s ACC II adoption. The remaining six commenters, including a large manufacturer of diesel engines and a petroleum industry trade group, were opposed to the regulation.
Typically, DEC will point to this overwhelming support in favor of the regulation as “proof” that it is appropriate. If the comments were representative of general public opinion, then the percentage of EVs on the road in New York and the sales totals would be much higher. As a result, the argument that the comments supporting the program are representative of general public opinion fails. The overwhelming numbers do show that the environmental movement is extremely good at playing the game.
I believe that the regulation only applies to new cars. This explanation states: “This law doesn’t affect gas cars already on the road, the sale of used gas cars or new registrations of gas cars.” I suspect what we will see will be similar to what happened in Cuba. Etam notes that:
Cuba has not had access to modern automotive technology since the 1960s. As a result, streets still are full of ancient American cars, held together forever.
There is no reason to think that won’t happen in the US, Canada and western Europe when the new-ICE ban comes into effect. Some segments of the population will go with the regulatory-mandated flow, while a great many will hold onto what they know, trust, and love. Short of a miracle battery breakthrough, many will simply not trust EVs in cold weather and/or instances where battery power doesn’t cut it.
As note previously, the lack of used EVs will impact the low income and disadvantage communities the most. The regulation tries to address this problem but I don’t think the plan is very useful:
The proposed voluntary ACC II EJ flexibility is intended to award extra ZEV values to OEMs that undertake programs to expand ZEV availability to low income and disadvantaged communities. Optional programs include discounted ZEVs and PHEVs placed in community-based clean mobility programs, used ZEVs and PHEVs remaining in New York following the expiration of their lease term, and making low-cost ZEVs available to low income and disadvantaged communities. EJ values will be capped at 5% per year and will sunset following model year 2031.
From a practical standpoint I do not see how the new car sales mandates are going to convince those members of the public that EVs have more problems than benefits to buy one. I bet that enterprising car salesmen will figure out ways around the regulation for those people who want a new internal combustion engine or even a PHEV for that matter. If I but one out of state and come in toe DMV to register it are they going to say you cannot do that? Will there be a market for sales out-of-state to middle men who buy a specific new car then turn around and sell it “used”. The ultimate fall back is to simply keep the existing cars running as long a possible.
When I tell someone that there is a regulation in place that will eventually force them to buy an electric vehicle, the usual response is to say they cannot do that and I won’t buy one. Unfortunately, the law is in place and eventually there will not be any other options for new vehicles. The only alternative is to vote out the pandering politicians who respond to the marketing efforts of the Big Green lobbyists that got us into this mess. I think that will eventually happen and I can’t wait.
For more on electric vehicles, go to our ClimateTV EV topic