The office of Vice President Al Gore has announced creation of the National Low Emission Vehicle Program, a voluntary agreement among auto manufacturers to produce cars that emit 70% fewer hydrocarbons and 50% less nitrogen oxide than current models. The goal for production of such vehicles is 2001. Because the Environmental Protection Agency is restricted from tightening its standards on auto manufacturers until 2004, this agreement will help companies avoid various state emissions requirements. Although states still have the right to adopt individual policies, many are participating in the program with the auto manufacturers. Tailpipe emissions account for half of U.S. air pollution. The effect of this agreement is supposed to be the equivalent of taking more than 10 million cars off the road. Participating companies include Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Rolls Royce, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volvo.
In similar news, Honda reported sales of more than 130,000 units of its low and ultra low emission vehicles during the first four months of the 1998 model year. The 1998 Accord and Civic, which meet California's strict emissions standards, are available in the U.S.