Electric, hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles are on the rise, with governments urging manufacturers to produce a wider range of models in order to make eco-cars a real option for consumers. The push for greener vehicles has seen the production of many electric models from major car manufacturers. However, it has been speculated that not all of these have been totally genuine, with some of them apparently falling short of their promises of solely electric technology.
Tough regulations in California require manufacturers to sell a certain amount of zero-emission vehicles, and many models have been developed to comply with this alone. In order to meet these regulations, vehicles must adhere to strict criteria. For example, they must only have limited production and be sold outright in volumes of less than 5,000 a year. These models include the Mitsubishi I, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S.
Green Car Reports have suggested that major manufacturers, including Ford and Toyota, have produced ‘fake’ or ‘ghost’ electric cars, which are simply battery-powered versions of existing petrol models, rather than new developments. These vehicles have been produced solely to comply with the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation, and are not intended to be sold on a large scale, the reports suggest.
GCR names some examples of these models, which include the Honda Fit EV, the GM Chevy Spark EV, the Chrysler Fiat Elettrica, the Toyota RAV 4 EV and the Ford Focus Electric. The arrival of the Ford Focus Electric in particular has caused massive industry attention, especially as it will be used as a pace car in a NASCAR event this year. This model sets itself apart from other electric vehicles with design and aesthetics that are unlike any other electric car on the market.
However, Green Car Reports have criticised Ford’s reluctance to release details of its makeup, causing speculation about whether it is indeed a ‘real’ electric vehicle, or whether it’s just a show car to prove that Ford are meeting the ZEV rule.
The Focus Electric is currently available in the US, but only in New York, New Jersey and California. Consumers are able to purchase it outright, but it has not yet been announced whether this will still be an option when it is released throughout the rest of the states. This will prove whether or not claims by GCR are correct.
California’s zero-emissions vehicle regulations were introduced with the intention of encouraging automotive manufacturers to seek out new technology and introduce more alternative-fuel cars. However, it seems that it may not have been totally successful, with some manufacturers instead producing these ‘fake’ models.
This incentive is clearly not enough for companies like Honda, Ford and Toyota, which seem to be finding an easy way round the regulation. It is not yet confirmed whether or not the Green Car Report’s predictions are correct or just pessimistic speculation.