Plug-In Car Conversion Startups Brace for New Rules

PHEV conversion companies — part of the nascent aftermarket industry that takes hybrid vehicles and turns them into plug-ins — may soon be required to run emissions tests and offer warranties competitive with big automakers in California. The state Air Resources Board, or ARB, will issue new rules for hybrid and plug-in emissions testing and aftermarket parts certification later this week.

While new rules would be designed to regulate smog emissions, plug-in advocates worry that an emerging technology for limiting greenhouse gas emissions could be squelched in the process, as the East Bay Express reports. We’re not sure aftermarket conversions would disappear entirely, although a shakeout seems likely.

Smog tests could cost startups like EDrive Systems, OEMTek, and Plug-In Conversions Corp. — which we’ve written about before — $20,000 to $125,000, depending on the number of cars ARB requires them to run through the paces. (Startups would have to pay for testing of at least one, and possibly several converted vehicles to have their technology examined and approved by regulators.) The proposed warranty mandate would be for up to a decade or 150,000 miles. We’ll follow news from ARB throughout the week.

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