28 January 2012

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has approved their “Advanced Clean Car Rules”—a package of new emission rules for cars and light trucks through 2025. The package—to be phased-in through 2025—includes the following components:

  • LEV III amendments to California Low Emission Vehicle regulations. Two regulations are bundled together under the LEV III cover:
    • LEV III emission standards for criteria emissions for vehicle model years 2015-2025
    • GHG emission standards for vehicle model years 2017-2025
  • ZEV (zero emission vehicle) regulation, and
  • Clean fuel outlets regulation.

The approved regulatory text follows the formal proposal published in December 2011.

The LEV III standards will reduce NMOG+NOx emissions by 75% by 2025, when the fleet average NMOG+NOx emissions will be required to meet the SULEV level of 0.030 g/mi, equivalent to the EPA Tier 2 Bin 2. The LEV III rule also includes new, very stringent PM mass limits—a PM emission limit of 0.003 g/mi will be phased-in over 2017-2021, and a 0.001 g/mi limit over 2025-2028.

These new PM mass emission standards are near the limit of detection of the current measurement methods. Particulate emissions at ultra low emission levels can be quantified more precisely using the European-style solid particle number (SPN) measurement—an approach that was considered for an alternative PM certification limit at an earlier stage of the LEV III rulemaking. The alternative SPN limit, however, was later withdrawn. One of the possible reasons for the withdrawal is harmonization with the coming federal Tier 3 emission regulation.

The approved GHG emission regulation is aligned with the recent federal GHG emissions and fuel economy proposal by the EPA/NHTSA. This approach gives manufacturers a convenient option to comply with one set of rules nationwide. However, negotiations that were held between the ARB, EPA and the manufacturers before the release of the EPA proposal have triggered an investigation by the US Congress as to the role that may have been played by California in the development of federal fuel economy regulations.

The amended ZEV regulation is designed to result in 1.4 million ZEVs on the road by 2025 (15.4% of new vehicle sales in that year). The Clean Fuel Outlets rule requires construction of hydrogen fueling stations to support commercialization of fuel cell vehicles by 2015.

To become law, the regulatory package must be still approved by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

Source: California ARB