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Consumer Reports Urges California to Move Forward with Stronger, More Equitable Clean Car Standards

  • Consumer Reports submitted comments to the California Air Resources Board as the state continues to develop its Advanced Clean Cars regulations package 


  • CR is urging the California Air Resources Board to include an equitable pathway for the state to reach a tipping point where significantly more than 50% of car sales are zero-emissions vehicles by 2030


  • CR is also calling on the state to include a strong greenhouse gas emissions standard for new vehicles, continuing to exercise their global leadership on climate change and, as CR’s analysis shows, saving consumers a considerable amount of money


SACRAMENTO, CA – Consumer Reports is urging the state of California to move forward with stronger standards for clean cars and light duty trucks that produce fewer emissions, while helping drivers save money. CR is also advocating for California regulations that deliver equitable outcomes, specifically in low-income, underserved communities where electric vehicle options are scarce and exposure to poor air quality from vehicle emissions is disproportionately high.


The nonprofit consumer organization filed comments with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on June 11, following the board’s May workshop to discuss the development of the state’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulations. Through this set of rules, California can reduce criteria and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new light- and medium-duty vehicles beyond the 2025 model year, increase the number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the market, and engage with environmental justice communities to ensure meaningful improvement in access to ZEVs. 


Alfred Artis, policy analyst for Consumer Reports, says, “The Advanced Clean Cars rules have the opportunity to accelerate marketplace change and bring innovative, money-saving technologies to consumers. These rules must spur a paradigm shift in transportation that will yield equitable outcomes for low-to-moderate income families, and put money back in consumers’ wallets, all while reducing air and climate pollution.”


In its comments, CR is encouraging the Board to adopt regulations that bring California to a tipping point where significantly more than 50% of new passenger car sales are ZEVs by 2030. CR says getting the state to reach this point will be critically important as California’s ZEV market evolves and becomes self-sustaining. CR’s comments also highlight the need for the ACC II regulations to include a strong greenhouse gas emissions standard that more aggressively protects human health and the environment. Since 2004, California has had the authority to set standards for new vehicle greenhouse gas emissions, and this month the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to reaffirm the state’s authority to do so. 


As a worldwide leader in GHG standards, California should maintain its position by including stronger standards in the states’ ACC II regulation package, CR says. Without standards providing guardrails for the market, automakers will be less likely to deliver cost-saving, emissions-reduction technology to consumers. In 2020 the EPA found that the greenhouse gas emissions of new vehicles sold in the U.S. increased for the first time in several years. CR says that California, as a national and global clean transportation leader, must not cede its authority over emissions reductions. California consumers need the benefits of stronger GHG standards and cannot rely on the federal government to deliver or maintain strong national standards. 


Consumer Reports also supports California taking aggressive action to incentivize the sale and accessibility of electric vehicles in disadvantaged communities, especially considering the high rate of exposure to vehicle emissions that exist in these communities today. CR is calling on the Board to ensure that ZEV technology is deployed in an equitable manner. Establishing incentives that encourage increased access to electric vehicles to low income and underserved consumers will lead to better air quality and the strengthened ability to save money over time.


A recent Consumer Reports study found that electric vehicles significantly lower the total cost of ownership for consumers, which in turn allows consumers to spend those savings in the broader economy. Stronger ACC II regulations in California would lead to more ZEVs on the market, saving consumers thousands of dollars, as outlined in CR’s study on mainstream electric vehicles already on the market today: 


  • Owning an electric vehicle will save the typical driver $6,000 to $10,000 over the life of the vehicle, compared to owning a comparable gas-powered vehicle.
  • The average electric vehicle driver will spend 60% less to power their car than the owner of a gas-powered vehicle.
  • Electric vehicle owners are spending half as much money to repair and maintain their cars compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.


The California Air Resources Board is tasked with developing programs and regulatory actions that combat climate change and protect people from the harmful impacts of air pollution. The Advanced Clean Cars II regulations package is currently in process to establish the next set of low-emission and zero-emission vehicle requirements to meet current federal air quality standards and California’s carbon neutrality targets. The Board is slated to review a final ACC II rulemaking package next June and if implemented, a strong greenhouse gas emissions standard and increased accessibility to ZEVs on the market will result in major benefits to consumers and the environment alike.


Contact: Carsen Mata, carsen.mata@consumer.org