California Zero-Emission Push Grows to 8 States, 3 Million Autos

California’s push for automakers to sell non-polluting cars and trucks is broadening as New York, Massachusetts, Oregon and four other states join in an effort to get 3.3 million “zero-emission” vehicles on the road.

The eight-state coalition, which also includes Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island, said in a statement today it will push for the numerical target by 2025, more than doubling California’s 1.5-million-car goal. While California buyers of plug-in hybrids, battery and hydrogen fuel-cell autos get incentives such as rebates, the seven other states didn’t announce specific enticements.

“Leadership is really important, and we applaud the states for taking this position,” said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America. “It’s important to get this state-level support.”

California’s program to cut carbon emissions from cars and trucks and stricter U.S. fuel-economy rules are prodding automakers to boost efficiency with lighter vehicles featuring smaller, more powerful engines and to offer more models powered wholly or in part by electricity. The eight states combined account for 23 percent of U.S. vehicle sales, according to California’s Air Resources Board.

U.S. sales of plug-in hybrids and battery-only autos this year through September totaled about 67,000 vehicles, 29 percent more than the 52,000 sold in all of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

The eight states’ main goal is to “expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles,” they said in today’s joint statement. Governors of the eight states signed a cooperative agreement to achieve the volume target to “help build a robust national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars,” they said.

Steps the states will consider to help people choose electric vehicles include standardizing building codes to install car chargers, adding zero-emission vehicles to public fleets, and possible financial incentives, the group said.

The announcement comes as California regulators today consider modifications to the state’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, in a hearing in Sacramento.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.