New Vehicle and Engine Certification
The New Vehicle/Engine Programs Branch within the ECC Division of CARB evaluates the emission control systems of new vehicles, engines, and evaporative emission control systems produced for California. When CARB finds that all emissions related requirements are met, CARB issues an Executive Order certifying the vehicle/engine/evaporative emission control system as compliant with California's emissions requirements. The On-Road Light-Duty Certification Section is responsible for the certification and production audit of new passenger cars (PC), light-duty trucks (LDT), medium-duty vehicles (MDV), highway (on-road) motorcycles (HMC), off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRV) including off-road motorcycles (OFMC), all-terrain vehicles (ATV), off-road utility vehicles (UV), off-road sport vehicles (SV), sand cars (SCAR), and electric golf carts (eGC). The Compression Ignition and Heavy-Duty Certification Section is responsible for the certification and production audit of new heavy-duty engines (HDE) and vehicles (HDV) including urban buses (UB), and new off-road compression ignition (OFCI) engines. The Off-Road Spark Ignition Engine Certification Section is responsible for the certification and production audit of new small spark-ignition engines (SSIE), large spark-ignition engines (LSIE), spark-ignition marine engines (SIME), and the evaporative emission control systems of vehicles and equipment which use SSIE, LSIE, and SIME. Vehicles and engines (hereinafter, vehicles) are not legal for sale in California until certified. Violation of the requirement for certification can subject the vehicle manufacturers and/or selling dealers to enforcement actions including a fine of up to $37,500 per violation per vehicle. This fine established in 2018 is adjusted periodically for inflation based on the California Consumer Price Index (CPI). For the CPI-adjusted fine visit the California Consumer Price Index-Increased Maximum Penalties web page.
To be certified, a vehicle must demonstrate that its exhaust and (as applicable, depending on the specific vehicle category) evaporative emission control systems are durable and comply with the emission standards for the vehicle's useful life. This is done through durability and certification testing of the prototype certification vehicle(s). Compliance with on-board diagnostics, anti-tampering, fuel tank fill-pipe and openings, crankcase emissions, etc., as applicable, must be demonstrated also. The vehicle manufacturer must also meet emissions-related requirements such as proper vehicle labeling and providing to the customer a California emissions warranty. An application for certification must be submitted to, and approved by, CARB (and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) concurrently.)
Production vehicles must be identical in all material respects to those (of the certification vehicles) for which the certification was granted; all emissions-related production running changes and field fixes must be approved. Production vehicles must be properly labeled and their emission control systems are warranted for the specified duration. New and customer-owned production vehicles are subject to compliance testing (by either the manufacturers or CARB and warranty repairs reporting by the manufacturers, either of which can result in remedial actions.
Certification is granted only to the manufacturer of the vehicles who controls the vehicle specifications to ensure compliance by all production vehicles. Certification can be granted to an importer only if the importer demonstrates that it has control of the vehicle specifications. As an example, this demonstration can be effected by a contractual agreement between the vehicle manufacturer and importer giving the importer the sole authority to approve any changes to the production vehicles in the certified engine/evaporative family. Importers lacking this vehicle specifications control are subject to the direct-import (a.k.a. gray-market) vehicle certification.