Well, it happened. The California Air Resources Board decided that electric vehicles and similar zero-emission autos are not ready for prime time. CARB voted to cut the number of zero-emission vehicles that automakers will need to sell in the state by 70 percent. This isn't as bad as the 90 percent cut many had feared, but it's still a massive reduction in pressure on the big auto companies to produce clean rides. CARB chair Mary Nichols called the reduced requirement (7,500 cars between 2012 and 2014 instead of 25,000 as a 2003 revision had called for) was "realistic" and that the pressure would still be brought to bear to get hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles onto California roads. The definition of "zero emission" and "partial zero emission" has always been slightly confusing (I mean, really, what is a partial zero?), and it just got murkier. According to Reuters, Nichols said, "All we've done is change the definition of a ZEV to allow an electric vehicle to have a little supplemental gasoline that goes with it. I don't think that it's a step backward in the real world." No, but it's not really a step forward, either.

[Source: Nichola Groom / Reuters]