Charged with compliance

Technologies notwithstanding, there are really only two types of electric cars: real cars, which the manufacturers hope to sell in mass quantities, and compliance cars, which the manufacturers hope will get California off their backs. Green Car Congress explains the difference:

We’d suggest that any plug-in car has to meet the following criteria before it can be considered real:

  • It’s sold outright to consumers, not only leased; and
  • It will sell at least 5,000 or more a year in the U.S. or reach total global sales of 20,000; and
  • It’s offered outside the “California emissions” states, or will be within 18 months

Any car that doesn’t meet those tests at a minimum isn’t a serious volume car; it’s either part of a test fleet or it exists just to comply with the [California zero-emissions vehicles] requirement.

The Nissan Leaf, for instance, has achieved Real status: it will sell in five figures this year in the US and can be had for purchase at pretty much any Nissan store you can name. Honda’s Fit EV, not so much:

Honda obligingly revealed that it would lease the Fit EV for $399 a month (on a base price of $36,625), but not offer it for sale.

And, it said, it plans to offer only 1,100 of them from 2012 through 2014, starting in California and Oregon this summer, expanding into six East Coast markets next year.

The very model of a modern for-compliance car.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)


  1. Jess »

    7 May 2012 · 5:54 am

    I can’t blame the auto manufacturers for doing whatever they can to keep selling cars, but I’d rather see them all just close the doors and tell all government agencies they will not service anything they’ve sold in the past, will not make any effort to manufacture anything in the U.S. in the near future and add some snarky comment such as: “If you’re so determined to spread horseshit, you can ride horses and have all you need.”

  2. nightfly »

    7 May 2012 · 9:27 am

    Honda’s regular Fit gets 29/38, so I don’t know why there’s a bunch of mewling about their brand-new EV model being slowly rolled out. It’s the automotive equivalent of beta testing. They’ll work out the kinks and then be able to give consumers a car they’ll actually want to own, rather than forcefeeding something that won’t work half as well and may or may not explode if a pine cone falls on it.

    Naturally, that’s not enough for a bureaucrat, who seems to think that physics is just another taxpayer to be ordered about.

  3. CGHill »

    7 May 2012 · 9:31 am

    Honda may have other issues. For instance, the back-burner fuel-cell program is still running, and they might be reluctant to push two wildly-divergent “solutions” at once.

  4. Friese Customs Golf Cart Parts and Accessories »

    2 June 2012 · 6:58 pm

    They shouldn’t even be able to build a compliance car. Way to cheat the system Honda. If these manufacturers don’t start really aiming for the mythical 50mpg car or better, they are just going to be contributing to the extension of a recession and eventually get shut down.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Tom Friese
    CEO Friese Customs
    Golf Cart Parts and Accessories

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