Advanced Clean Cars Program
In 2012, CARB adopted a set of regulations to control emissions from passenger vehicles, collectively called Advanced Clean Cars.
Advanced Clean Cars, developed in coordination with the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), combined the control of smog-causing (criteria) pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into a single coordinated package of regulations: the Low-Emission Vehicle III Regulation for criteria (LEV III Criteria) and GHG (LEV III GHG) emissions, and a technology-forcing mandate for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).
The goal of the program was to guide the development of environmentally advanced cars that would continue to deliver the performance, utility and safety car owners have come to expect. Advanced Clean Cars includes the following elements:
LEV III Criteria: Reducing Smog-Forming Pollution
Cars today are significantly cleaner than they were just a decade ago, but there are millions of vehicles on California roads now, and those numbers will continue to increase. We are also driving more now than in previous years. In order to address this situation and continue to improve air quality, CARB adopted new emission standards to reduce smog-forming emissions (also known as ‘criteria pollutants’) beginning with 2015 model year vehicles. Thanks to this regulation, in 2025, cars will emit 75 percent less smog-forming pollution than the average car sold in 2012.
LEV III GHG: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
California’s GHG regulations are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by approximately 40 percent (from 2012 model year vehicles) in 2025. Studies indicate that they are technologically feasible and will save consumers money over the life of the vehicle because lower fuel use accompanies reductions of greenhouse gases. Technologies to achieve the new standards include engine and emission control advancements, wider application of advanced hybrid technology, and greater use of stronger and lighter materials.
Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation: Promoting the Cleanest Cars
The ZEV regulation is designed to achieve the state’s long-term emission reduction goals by requiring auto manufacturers to offer for sale specific numbers of the very cleanest cars available. These vehicle technologies include full battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles. Updated estimates using publicly available information show about 8 percent of California new vehicle sales in 2025 will be ZEVs and plug-in hybrids.
Adoption of Similar Federal Standards
In October 2012, U.S. EPA finalized GHG standards for passenger vehicles that are substantially similar to the California GHG regulations for the 2017 through 2025 model years. The Air Resources Board adopted a provision within the LEV III GHG regulations that allowed manufacturers to comply with the federal standards, as long as those standards remained as stringent as California’s Advanced Clean Cars.
2017 Midterm Review
When the Air Resources Board adopted Advanced Clean Cars in 2012, they committed to conducting a comprehensive midterm review of three elements of the program: 1) the ZEV regulation, 2) the 1 milligram per mile particulate matter standard, and 3) the light-duty vehicle GHG standards for 2022 and later model years. Staff’s review was conducted at the same time as the U.S. EPA and NHTSA midterm evaluation of the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards for 2022 through 2025 model years at the national level. The Air Resources Board concluded the following at its March 2017 hearing:
- Adopted greenhouse gas standards remain appropriate for 2022 through 2025 model years
- Continue with existing technology-forcing zero-emission vehicle requirements to develop the market
- Direct staff to immediately begin rule development for 2026 and subsequent model years
- Continue and expand complementary policies to help support an expanding ZEV market
- The particulate matter standard is feasible but further action is needed to ensure robust control