×

Elon Musk is furious at a small California state agency

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk had some heated words for an obscure branch of California state government.

What is he mad about? Something called ZEV credits. California has a Zero Emissions Vehicle Standard that requires a percentage of all auto sales in the state to be zero emission vehicles. There are two ways to meet the standard — either a company has to sell a certain number of emission-free cars, or it has to offset the failure to do so by buying credits from another company that is exceeding the standard.

The program has been a source of revenue for Tesla — in 2013, the company made just short of $130 million selling the credits to other car companies, according to CleanTechnica.

Then, in the latest quarter, Tesla only "recognized an insignificant amount of ZEV credit revenue," according to a letter to shareholders Wednesday.

Musk said on a call with analysts after the earnings release that the emissions credit program run by the California Air Resources Board is mismanaged and is too influenced by lobbyists from the major automotive manufacturers.

And Musk gave a strongly-worded answer as to why:

"The California Air Resources Board is being incredibly weak in its application of ZEV credits," he said. "The standards are pathetically low. They need to be increased, there is massive lobbying by the big car companies to prevent CARB from increasing the ZEV credit mandate, which they absolutely damn well should. It is a crying shame that they haven't. And as a result, you can barely sell a ZEV credit for pennies on the dollar. CARB should damn well be ashamed of themselves."

A spokesperson for CARB wasn't immediately available.