Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, now a senior advisor at investment firm VantagePoint Venture Partners, called the issue of emission-free vehicles one of "national energy security" and asked the board to boost requirements for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. VantagePoint is an investor in plug-in hybrid maker Fisker Automotive Inc. Ze'ev Drori, chief executive of Tesla Motors Inc., maker of an electric car, argued for more rigorous standards. Because of the complicated workings of the mandate, his company stands to make money trading the credits it earns when it sells its vehicles.
"The only impediment to this is the parochial, self-interested agendas of the automakers," he said.
Al Weverstad, executive director for environment, energy and safety at GM, asked the board for special consideration for the Chevy Volt, which is in development. GM says the car will have a longer range than rival plug-in hybrids.
"We'd ask that you give us some additional credits," he said. The board granted that request, valuing extended-range plug-in hybrids above shorter-range models.
Robert Sawyer, former chairman of the air board, called for simplification. "We should return to a 'zero means zero,' simple, easy to enforce program," he said.