California has gained a reputation as one of the scripted governmental bodies in the world when it comes to the environment, and like it or not, there's no denying that its legislation drives green technology. At the moment the top six automakers in the state - Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan - are required to sell a certain number of all-electric or fuel-cell cars every year. California has updated its mandate so that by 2018, any automaker that sells 20,000 vehicles or more in the state will also be held accountable.
At today's sales numbers, that includes BMW, Hyundai and Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo. The sales numbers may change in six years' time to require more or less automakers to comply. Those who don't meet the quota are fined. The quota changes based on a staggering number of factors - specific technologies used, driving range, whether or not automakers' targets are met by a certain time, and more. Like carbon emissions themselves, credits can be purchased outright from California's Air Resources Board and traded between companies in order to avoid fines.
California's population and economy is large enough that its legislative bodies can drive sweeping changes in US and international corporations, and it's doing so for automakers as it has for other environmentally suspect industries. Ten other states have similar laws on the books, but none are as heavy-handed as California's. Due to the complexity of the current quota and credit system, the Air Resources Board doesn't have exact statistics on how many zero-emission vehicles are on the road in California. When the wider statute starts in 2018, the system will be simplified to only grant credit based on the range of the vehicles in question.
[via Consumer Reports]