California rolls out new automotive emissions rules

The California Air Resources Board has announced the Advanced Clean Cars program, designed to drastically reduce smog-causing pollutants and expected to lead to increased sale of zero emission and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for model years 2017 through 2025.

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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has unanimously approved a package of new emissions rules for cars and light trucks through 2025.

The Advanced Clean Cars program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package of requirements for model years 2017 through 2025. The new rules will clean up gasoline and diesel-powered cars, and deliver increasing numbers of zero-emission technologies, such as full battery electric cars, newly emerging plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell cars. The package will also ensure adequate fueling infrastructure is available for the increasing numbers of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles planned for deployment in California.

Reported benefits of program include:

  • California drivers will save $5 billion in operating costs in 2025, and $10 billion by 2030 when more advanced cars are on the road.
  • In 2025, average consumers will see nearly $6,000 in fuel cost savings over the life of the car, nearly triple the estimated per vehicle cost.
  • The rules deliver a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming emissions from new vehicles by 2025 (compared to 2014 levels).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from new cars will be cut 34 percent from 2016 levels.
  • By 2025, greenhouse gases will be reduced by 52 million tons, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road for a year.
  • The package will result in a cumulative reduction of more than 870 million metric tons of greenhouse gases through 2050.
  • Zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicles will account for one in seven new cars sold in California in 2025 (15.4 percent).
  • More than 1.4 million zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be on the road in California by 2025.
  • Overall savings generated by the proposed rules will result in an additional 21,000 jobs in California in 2025, rising to 37,000 in 2030.

The new standard drops greenhouse gas emissions to 166 grams per mile, a reduction of 34 percent compared to 2016 levels. This will be achieved through existing technologies, the use of stronger and lighter materials, and more efficient drivetrains and engines.

California will need to reduce smog-forming pollution by an additional 75 percent from 2014 levels to help meet more stringent federal air quality standards expected in the next few years. Since California continues to have the nation’s worst air quality, and has more than 26 million cars on the road, it is necessary to further reduce smog-forming pollution from cars. This regulation will drive the development of the cleanest cars yet that use diesel, gasoline, or gas-electric hybrid internal combustion engines. 

Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) regulation will result in more than 1.4 million ZEVs on the road by 2025 (15.4 percent of new vehicle sales in that year) in order to be on track to reach the 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal. A transitional model – the plug-in hybrid car – will play a significant role over the next 20 years, but by mid-century, 87 percent of cars on the road will need to be full zero-emission vehicles to achieve climate goals.

This regulation is designed to support the commercialization of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicles planned by vehicle manufacturers by 2015, which will require increased numbers of hydrogen fueling stations. Construction of the new stations will provide a convenient fueling infrastructure, first within the major metropolitan areas, but ultimately throughout the state. The number of stations will grow as vehicle manufacturers sell more fuel cell vehicles.