Alternative Fuel Retrofit Systems (Aftermarket)
Certification of Alternative Fuel Retrofit Systems
California regulations prohibit the conversion of emission-controlled vehicles with retrofit systems to operate on an alternative fuel, such as natural gas, propane, or ethanol, in lieu of the original gasoline or diesel fuel unless the retrofit systems have been evaluated and certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The certification of an alternative fuel retrofit system must be obtained by its manufacturer. Certification is issued by CARB once the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with the emission, warranty, and durability requirements. A manufacturer is defined as a person who manufactures or assembles an alternative fuel retrofit system for sale in California. An individual who wishes to convert a vehicle for personal use does not fall under this definition and cannot certify a retrofit system in California.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) streamlined its rules for alternative fuel converters using a 3-tier approach based on vehicle age/useful life (published April 8, 2011). This has prompted numerous inquiries regarding their applicability in California. As clarified in U.S. EPA guidance letter CISD-10-24 (Q&A # 9), California’s requirements for alternative fuel converters are different than U.S. EPA’s requirements. Revisions to California’s Alternative Fuel Conversion regulation and test procedures were approved by the Board on September 26, 2013. 2003 model year and earlier vehicles were not affected by these changes. The revisions provided for streamlining of the conversion approval process for 2004 Model year and later Light Duty (LD) vehicles/Heavy Duty (HD) engines. Small volume manufacturers were given some additional relief which sunsets after the 2017 model year.
Approved Alternative Fuel Retrofit Systems
Individuals interested in converting their vehicles to operate on an alternative fuel must ensure that the alternative fuel retrofit systems used for their vehicles have been certified by CARB. Lists of certified retrofit systems for various vehicle makes and models are available online, as follows:
- Conversion Systems for 1994 and newer model year vehicles
- Conversion Systems for 1993 and older model year vehicles
Procedures for Alternative Fuel Retrofit System Certification
The following are the procedures for certifying retrofit systems designed to convert on-road vehicles and engines to operate on alternative fuels:
- 2004 and Subsequent Model Year Conventional Vehicles Converted to Alternative Fuel Vehicles
- 1994-2003 Model Year Conventional Vehicles Converted to Alternative Fuel Vehicles
- 2000 and Subsequent Model Year Hybrid Vehicles Converted to Plug In Vehicles
To obtain additional information on certification requirements of Vehicles Converted to Alternative Fuel Vehicles, please contact Jackie Lourenco, Chief, New Vehicles and Engine Programs Branch at (626) 450-6152.
For information on Hybrid Vehicles Converted to Plug In Vehicles, please contact Antonio Martino, Manager, Aftermarket Parts Section at (626) 575-6848.
For hydrogen, biodiesel or non-hybrid to hybrid questions, please contact Antonio Martino, Manager, Aftermarket Parts Section, at (626) 575-6848.