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Washington consumers poised to benefit from ‘Zero Emission Vehicle’ program

OLYMPIA, WA — Consumer Reports today praised the Washington legislature and Governor Inslee for removing a key barrier to consumer access to cleaner cars, opening the door for state adoption of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. 

“This program will ensure that Washingtonians can buy electric cars at their local dealers as more and more kinds come to market, including all-electric pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers,” said Alfred Artis, policy analyst for Consumer Reports. “This is a big win for Washingtonians that will help deliver consumer, environmental, and public health benefits,” adds Artis, who petitioned legislators to change the law, which legally barred the state from adopting a ZEV program.

On Monday the legislature passed the measure, and once Governor Inslee signs the bill, he will direct Washington’s Department of Ecology to implement it. The ZEV program requires that by 2022, 5% of each automaker’s sales be zero-emission vehicles, like battery-electric vehicles. Washington state was fourth in the country in electric vehicle sales in 2019, showing significant consumer demand for cleaner cars despite limited access.

“Just a little effort by dealerships, in the form of advertising and salesperson training, will go a long way towards increasing electric vehicle ownership and making this program a success,” says Artis. Currently, when deciding where to send electric vehicles for sale, automakers prioritize states that have adopted a ZEV program.

A 2019 survey by Consumer Reports found that 63% of prospective car buyers in the U.S. have some interest in electric vehicles, and 31% said they would consider one for their next purchase. 72% said they want automakers to provide more kinds of electric vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans.

Electric vehicles not only offer consumers a way to reduce maintenance and fuel costs when they drive, but also reduce air pollution. Two metro areas in Washington – Seattle and Yakima – are among the 10 most-affected areas of short-term particle pollution in the entire country, according to a recent American Lung Association study. Particle pollution is known to increase the severity of childhood asthma cases, increase emergency room visits for those with respiratory ailments, and can even cause early death.

In addition, electric vehicles in Washington state produce 92% less greenhouse gas emissions than gas-powered vehicles in the state, according to a recent Consumer Reports analysis

Consumer Reports has a guide to help consumers decide if an electric vehicle is right for them: Electric Cars 101: The Answers to All Your EV Questions.