Automakers Call for Consumer Test for Electric Vehicles

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturer's proposed Fair Market Test would provide a mix of full-function electric vehicles for sale or lease to determine sustainability of EV market.

Published: 07-Dec-2000

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers today called on the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to adopt a "Fair Market Test" to determine whether a successful, sustainable consumer market exists for battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) at volumes required by the state's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. The Alliance provided ARB with details of its Fair Market Test this week.

"The Fair Market Test (FMT) is a common-sense approach to determine whether a viable and sustainable market for EVs exists," said Josephine S. Cooper, president & CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "Everyone, including ARB, agrees that California's ZEV mandate presents enormous challenges, and one of the most difficult is low customer demand for electric vehicles. We developed the Fair Market Test to evaluate consumer responses to a range of EVs that are marketed in one specific geographic area."

In September, ARB voted to maintain the current mandate and directed its staff to address substantial issues related to whether there is a sustainable market for EVs. Under ARB's ZEV mandate, at least 22,000 EVs are expected to be produced in 2003, increasing to at least 40,000 vehicles per year in subsequent years.

The Fair Market Test outlined by the Alliance would be conducted through existing dealerships in one California market over a reasonable time period, such as three years, beginning in 2003. "Because the Fair Market Test will be limited to one specific area, we can really focus our marketing and education programs and infrastructure development to produce maximum impact," said Cooper.

Under the Fair Market Test, large automobile manufacturers would provide a mix of full-function electric vehicles for sale or lease. Test funding would be provided by the auto industry, and could include contributions from ARB, other governmental units, utilities, battery suppliers, environmentalists, and EV owners. The consumer market test would be run by a foundation with a governing board representing a broad range of interests, including ARB and the motoring public. The foundation would involve an independent blue-ribbon panel of experts to assist with implementing the Fair Market Test.

"We've proposed to ARB how the Fair Market Test could work," said Cooper. "At the outset of the test, we want ARB and the industry to agree upon clear, objective measures to evaluate whether the consumer test is a success or a failure. We've never had a common yardstick for evaluating consumer response to EVs, so it's time to develop a program with objective measures and put it to the test."

"The Fair Market Test program is a unique approach to resolving the complex issue of whether a sustainable market exists for EVs that would enable manufacturers to meet the current ZEV mandate," said Cooper. "It's objective, and it accommodates the interests of ARB, manufacturers, and others. By limiting the Fair Market Test to a specific geographic area and time, the program assures that the funds available to the foundation will be used in the most effective way. The liberal use of independent third-party experts assures that the program will be conducted objectively and fairly. And the inclusion of an objective bright line test to determine the success or failure of the Fair Market Test provides us all with needed certainty."

Under the Fair Market Test, the current ZEV regulation would be amended to defer its effective date while the test is conducted. As required by California law, the final decision regarding the Fair Market Test's success would be made by ARB.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a 13-member coalition of car and light truck manufacturers who employ more than 620,000 Americans at 250 facilities in 35 states. Alliance members represent more than 90 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. For more information, visit the Alliance at http://www.autoalliance.org .

SOURCE Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

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