Low-Emission Vehicle Program
The Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the first Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations in 1990, requiring automobile manufacturers to introduce progressively cleaner light- and medium-duty vehicles with more durable emission controls from the 1994 through 2003 model years. By adopting these regulations, CARB established the most stringent criteria pollutant exhaust regulations ever for light- and medium-duty vehicles.
The regulations, now referred to as the LEV I regulations, included three primary elements: 1) tiers of exhaust emission standards for increasingly more stringent categories of low-emission vehicles, 2) a mechanism requiring each auto manufacturer to phase-in a progressively cleaner mix of vehicles from year to year with the option of credit banking and trading, and 3) a requirement that a specified percentage of passenger cars and light-duty trucks be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) with no exhaust or evaporative emissions.
Building on LEV I, the second generation LEV II regulations continued to reduce criteria pollutant emissions from new light- and medium-duty vehicles starting with the 2004 model year.
In 2004, CARB approved the landmark Pavley regulations to require automakers to control greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles for the 2009 through 2016 model years. These were the first regulations in the nation to control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. Upon adoption of federal greenhouse gas standards by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) that preserved the benefits of the Pavley regulations, the Pavley regulations were revised to accept compliance with the federal standards as compliance with California’s standards in the 2012 through 2016 model years. This is referred to as the “deemed to comply” option.
In 2012, CARB adopted the LEV III regulations as part of the Advanced Clean Cars rulemaking package that also includes the state’s ZEV regulation. The LEV III regulations include increasingly stringent emission standards for criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases for new passenger vehicles through the 2025 model year.