Why stop at ZEV?

Flying cars are cool. Let’s pass a law to require 25,000 of them by 2015. If GM resists, they must just be hiding their secret flying car technology.

I’m not actually talking about flying cars, but zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) mandated by the state of California.

ZEVs are a cool idea, and a hard problem. In particular, the battery-electric solution is much more expensive than internal combustion, uses more energy (considering the entire generation value chain), and creates new environmental problems (how to recycle tens of millions of lead-acid batteries?)

Mandates define the problem too narrowly. We want less carbon, pollution and fossil fuel use. ZEV is one way. So is bicycling. Why mandate only one of these?

California’s ZEV mandates are a cheap shortcut, an easy path to political points. If we really had guts, we’d just add a huge tax on gasoline.

At $7 a gallon, we’ll get a much broader solution set, more market-based, and much earlier than 2015.

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