The ability of firms to influence environmental regulation has largely been overlooked in transition studies. We study how car manufacturers combine and change their innovation and political influence strategies in response to a technology-forcing regulation. We apply a conceptual framework on corporate responses to public innovation policy to the case of the zero emission vehicle mandate over the period 1990–2013. We use patent and sales data to operationalize the R&D and commercialization aspects of innovation strategies, while using corporate political activities data to operationalize political influence strategies. We find that first, car manufacturers used specific combinations of innovation and political influence strategies, depending on their value maintaining or value creating nature. Second, manufacturers changed their strategies and became more value creating over time, which supported socio-technical change. Third, we refine the available strategy typology by identifying subclasses in defensive (opposition and slowdown) and proactive strategies (shaping, support and progressive).