saw this online,
On a recent run from Boston to Cape Cod, I test drove the 2008 Honda Accord, the latest version of this family favorite. The new Accord boasts an environmental first: a six-cylinder gasoline engine that's cleaner than many hybrid systems.
There's only one catch: You can't actually buy this ultra-green Accord, or the four-cylinder version that also produces near-zero pollution. That is, unless you live in California, New York or six other northeast states that follow California's tougher pollution rules. Only there can you buy this Accord, or the roughly two dozen other models that meet so-called Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standards, PZEV for short.
Not only can't you buy one, but the government says it's currently illegal for automakers to sell these green cars outside of the special states. Under terms of the Clean Air Actâ€”in the kind of delicious irony only our government can pull offâ€”anyone (dealer, consumer, automaker) involved in an out-of-bounds PZEV sale could be subject to civil fines of up to $27,500. Volvo sent its dealers a memo alerting them to this fact, noting that its greenest S40 and V50 models were only for the special states.
It's not all the fault of the car companies. The crazy quilt of environmental regulations is forcing carmakers to design and build two versions of the same cars. And it costs real money to make a car this green. So in states where there are no regulations to force their hand,automakers don't want to have to boost their prices for the green versionsâ€”or to simply eat the extra cost and make less profit.
Honda appears to be doing just that. It currently charges Californians and other green-staters about $150 extra for these solid-citizen models. But experts suggest that it costs carmakers closer to $400 a pop to install the gear.
Another issue: The PZEV cars don't get any better mileage than conventional versions. Would most self-interested Americans even pay a lousy 100 bucks for cleaner air that doesn't put fuel savings back in their pocket? "With hybrids, the selling point is fuel economy, so there's a dollar amount on that," said William Walton, Honda's product planning chief for U.S. cars. "We want to give people the cleanest vehicles we can produce, but how much are people willing to pay for clean air?"