A 13-year feud over electric cars and clean air appears to be over. Automakers and California clean-air officials have resolved lawsuits andsay they will start working to put hundreds of thousands of ultraclean gas-engine cars, thousands of gas-electric hybrid-power vehicles and a handful of fuel-cell electrics on the road in a few years, according to USA Today
.In essence, car companies will be able to meet the state's standards selling vehicles that they planned to anyway, rather than electric cars that don't sell. An announcement of the resolution is scheduled for today, USA Today
said.General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Isuzu and some California auto dealers had filed three lawsuits blocking California Air Resources Board's low-emission-vehicle regulations. The parties also plan to say that the 2003 version of CARB's clean-air regulations, passed in April, will go into effect in 2005, according to USA Today
."We don't agree with mandated approaches toautomotive technology, but the 2003 regulation might have the flexibility we've been asking for," said GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss."It's good news for clean air in California and for the evolution of auto technology generally," said Jason Mark, director of the clean vehicles program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacygroup.Beginning with 2005 models, the six biggest automakers - GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan - will have to sell certain numbers of so-called PZEV vehicles - conventional gasoline-engine cars designed to put out nearly immeasurable pollution from the tailpipe or from fuel tank evaporations. The "P" means partial credit toward the zero-emission quota.At the same time, automakers will have to begin selling more gas-electric hybrids. Several models of both PZEV and hybrids are sold now.