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Governors pledge to get millions of zero-emission cars on the road

A Nissan Leaf full electric car is seen at a charging station at Darcars Nissan in Rockville, Md. Governors of eight states have pledged to get more electric and other zero-emission vehicles on the roads.
A Nissan Leaf full electric car is seen at a charging station at Darcars Nissan in Rockville, Md. Governors of eight states have pledged to get more electric and other zero-emission vehicles on the roads.GARY CAMERON

The push to get more zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads got a significant boost as eight governors pledged to get 3.3 million non-polluting cars on the roads by 2025.

The agreement by the leaders from California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont isn’t binding, but includes what many observers consider a key component to getting more of those vehicles on the road: a commitment to build charging stations and other infrastructure components.

While the agreement requires no specific financial commitment, the deal has the states working together to change building codes and other regulations to allow a quick rollout of new charging stations.

“This is not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement. “From coast to coast, we’re charging ahead to get millions of the world’s cleanest vehicles on our roads.”

There are more than 6,700 charging stations open to the public in the signatory states.

The eight states account for 23 percent of the automotive market in the U.S.

Each of the eight states had already adopted rules requiring a percentage of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission by 2025. California’s mandate of 15.4 percent calls for a total of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles to be on the state’s roads by that time.

Currently, plug-in-hybrids and electric vehicles make up less than 2 percent of the auto market there.

While infrastructure may be a limiting factor, the number of offerings from automakers is not. There are now 16 zero-emission vehicles from eight manufacturers on the market, including nine battery electrics, two hydrogen fuel cell cars and five plug-in hybrid models.

Officials say that every automaker will have a zero-emission model by 2015.

Electric vehicle sales have been increasing for each of the past three years. There have been 59,000 electric vehicles sold through September. There were about 52,000 last year and 17,000 in 2011.

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