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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

March 5, 1998

Council: Low demand for electric vehicles should end mandate

The Business Council is urging a change in state environmental policy: elimination of the electric vehicle sales mandate currently imposed on vehicle manufacturers.

At present, major automobile manufacturers must market electric vehicles in New York State and must sell or lease at least 16,000 in model years 1998 and 1999. Failure to do so will lead to civil penalties or limits on sales of non-electric vehicles in New York State.

"It is clear that the public is not accepting the high cost and limited performance of the existing generation of electric vehicles," Daniel B. Walsh, President of The Business Council, wrote in a Feb. 27 letter to Governor Pataki.

"Moreover, we are opposed to market mandates of this nature and believe that they have a negative impact on any sector of the state's economy."

Walsh noted that lack of interest in the vehicles among both fleet operators and individual consumers mirrors experience in both California and Arizona.

Since 1990, General Motors has built 660 EV1 model electric vehicles but has been able to sell or lease fewer than half of them, the letter noted.

GM is also marketing an electric S-10 pickup truck and has sold or leased only 200 since January 1997, the letter noted.

In New York, GM has made marketing presentations to New York State, utilities and other companies, universities, and municipalities - and "has yet to receive a single order from a New York customer," Walsh said.

The letter noted that this lack of consumer support for current electric vehicles will make it virtually impossible for manufacturers to place 16,000 electric vehicles over the 1998 and 1999 model years.

This projected shortfall in electric vehicle sales could lead to harsh civil penalties or restrictions on the sale of non-electric vehicles.

"We believe these penalties are inappropriate considering manufacturers' good faith efforts to develop, build, and market electric vehicles," Walsh noted.

"New York should opt in to the national LEV [low-emission vehicle] program," Walsh wrote. "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined the national LEV program, without an electric vehicle sales mandate, would produce net air quality advantages in New York compared with having the full California emissions program implemented in this state."