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California proposes Advanced Clean Car rules including LEV III, GHG emission standards

8 December 2011

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) published a proposed “Advanced Clean Car” package of regulations, to be considered for adoption at the ARB meeting on January 26, 2012. The regulatory package includes four components:

LEV III. The LEV III standards are designed to reduce the emissions of NOx+NMOG by 75% by 2025. The average NMOG+NOx emissions from light-duty vehicles will be reduced to SULEV levels (0.030 g/mi), equivalent to the EPA Tier 2 Bin 2. The LEV III standards would phase-in a new 150,000 miles durability requirement, compared to the current 120,000 miles.

Most of the provisions in this formal LEV III proposal are consistent with the LEV III discussion paper released in February 2010. However, the ARB dropped the solid particle number (SPN) emission limit, recommended earlier as an option. The reason for the withdrawal, while not entirely clear, might have been the harmonization of California LEV III testing requirements with those of the EPA Tier 3 regulation, currently under development.

The LEV III proposal includes new, very stringent PM mass limits. For passenger cars, a PM emission limit of 0.003 g/mi is phased-in over 2017-2024, and a 0.001 g/mi limit over 2025-2028.

GHG Emission Standards. The proposed new standard drops GHG emissions to 166 g/mi by 2025, a reduction of 34% compared to 2016 levels. The proposal appears to be closely aligned with the recent federal GHG emissions and fuel economy proposal by the EPA/NHTSA.

The current California GHG emission regulations are aligned with the federal requirements and give manufacturers a convenient option to comply with one set of rules nationwide. However, the role that may have been played by California in the development of federal fuel economy regulations is currently under investigation by the US Congress.

ZEV Regulation. This regulation builds on the program in place since 1990. It is designed to increase ZEV production and to place California on a path to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2050. To achieve that goal, 87% of cars on the road in 2050 would need to be full zero-emission vehicles.

The ZEV regulation is designed to result in 1.4 million ZEVs on the road by 2025 and 15.4% of new vehicle sales in that year. The ZEV amendments also include a provision that allows automakers that substantially over comply with their national GHG emission requirements across their entire fleet to offset their ZEV requirement.

Clean Fuel Outlets. This regulation would require the construction of hydrogen fueling stations to support the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles planned by five vehicle manufacturers by 2015.

Source: California ARB (LEV III & GHG | ZEV | Clean fuels outlets)