Report: Toyota To Boost Japan Output Of Prius Hybrid 60% By Next Year
Argonne Tests Find Near-Zero Emissions for BMW Hydrogen 7

California Air Resources Board Votes to Modify ZEV Program in Short-Term; Complete Overhaul to Begin for New ZEV II

The ARB conceives the restructuring of the current ZEV program as breaking off PZEVs and AT-PZEVs, both of which are fully commercialized, to other regulatory programs, and to focus solely on emergent ZEV technologies that require commercialization support. Click to enlarge.

The California Air Resources Board today voted unanimously for changes in the 2012-2014 phase (Phase III) of the current Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program that lower the minimum target for full ZEVs (hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles) but introduce plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to the mix, with added consideration for extended-range or more capable plug-in vehicles. The Board is setting the floor target for pure ZEVs at 7,500 (based on a baseline fuel cell vehicle) during the period—three times higher than the floor proposed by staff in their suggested modifications to the program (earlier post), but 70% lower than the target of 25,000 last set by the current program in 2003. The higher ZEV target did not recognize the use of plug-in hybrids.

The board also voted unanimously to begin the process of a complete overhaul of the ZEV program for the subsequent 2015+ phase in a move that is intended to result in a streamlined ZEV II program solely focused on hydrogen fuel cell, battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The span of the current program includes clean gasoline vehicles (PZEV), and hybrid electric vehicles (AT-PZEV) in addition to ZEV vehicles. ARB staff is to provide a proposal on this to the Board by the end of 2009.

The 2012-2014 Phase III Changes. ARB staff, at the request of the Board, last year began developing a set of changes proposed by the ARB staff to the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program to better reflect the state of technology—specifically, the difficulties being experienced on the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle side, the rapid development of battery technology, and the emergence of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The staff proposals, represented in the Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR) document published in February 2008, reduced the pure ZEV target to 2,500 in Phase III, and allowed a new class of vehicle (which includes PHEVs and hydrogen ICE) to meet up to 90% of the ZEV requirement in the near term and up to 50% in the medium term.

While the inclusion of PHEVs was welcomed by most stakeholders, the proposal to cut the ZEV floor to 2,500 had met with a great deal of criticism—from advocates for both hydrogen fuel cell technology, who worried about sending a negative signal to the market that would cripple future hydrogen development, to advocates for battery electric vehicles, who asserted that BEVs could now meet the older target number. Environmental groups noted that while the inclusion of PHEVs was appropriate, PHEVs and ZEVs should be decoupled, with separate targets. Furthermore, they suggested, the 25,000 target should be kept or even increased.

As a result, there was much speculation that the Board would raise the 2,500 ZEV floor proposed by staff, but the magnitude of the increase was not known.

The ZEV program currently recognizes three categories of vehicle:

  • Bronze: PZEVs (Partial Zero Emission Vehicles), e.g. clean gasoline vehicles

  • Silver: AT-PZEVs (Advanced Technology PZEVs), e.g. hybrid electric vehicles

  • Gold: ZEVs (Zero Emissions Vehicles), e.g., hydrogen fuel cell or battery electric vehicles, including neighborhood electric vehicles.

The modifications to Phase III voted today will add a fourth category: Silver+, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Each of the categories, and vehicle types within a category, carry a different number of credits that are used to calculate an automaker’s sales compliance with the ZEV program.

The 7,500 unit target is based on a prototypic fuel cell vehicle that carries 5 credits (the “hinge point” for the regulation). To meet the ZEV target with a lower range battery-electric vehicle (Type II ZEV, three credits), the new target would be 12,500 (7,500 x 5/3).The ARB is proposing the addition of a new extended range fuel cell category (range > 300 miles) that would carry 7 credits. Meeting the target with such a vehicle would require 5,357 vehicles.

Incremental Cost of Higher ZEV Floor
ProposalGold vehiclesSilver+ VehiclesAnnual Cost
Staff proposal 2,500 75,000 $875M (baseline)
Board motion 7,500
(5-credit basis)
58,333 $147M (incremental to baseline)

A number of details need to be worked out to flesh out the motion passed by the Board today. ARB staff will post a detailed version of the resolution and its changes relative to the staff ISOR proposal on its web site tomorrow. Some of the modifications can be handled as minor changes; others may require a more involved process. Among the other Phase III program changes asked for by the board, in addition to the big issue of changing the floor ZEV number, included:

  • Allocating additional credits to extended-range electric vehicles such as the Volt or to other plug-ins that can handle more aggressive drive cycle testing (US06) with longer all-electric range.

  • Increased credits for higher-range fuel cell vehicles.

  • Clarifying credit allocation for city battery electric vehicles (lower-range EVs such as the Mitsubishi i MiEV), in the context of the requirements for large volume and intermediate volume manufacturers.

  • Providing additional transparency in ZEV credit trading.

  • Deciding on how to define PHEV capabilities (mileage or kWh)—this is likely to wait for ZEV II

ZEV II. The discussion on the modifications to the ZEV program highlighted the complexity of the current program. ARB Chair Mary Nichols set the stage for the overhaul by noting at the beginning of the meeting that:

I think that it is important to note that this program since adoption has been through a number of iterations and has been modified several times to make adjustments. It has been a difficult process...and the program seems to have lost its way. Our goal here today is to emerge with a clear direction that will get this program on track.

—ARB Chair Mary Nichols

Board member Daniel Sperling (UC Davis) followed by saying in his opening comments that:

This program has led a tortured life. The industry agrees on electric drive as the future, although there is uncertainty about what it means. The ZEV mandate deserves a lot of credit for that. Having gone this tortured life, and being one of the most complex policy instruments I've ever seen...I'm going to make a resolution at some point, that we overhaul the program completely, start from scratch. We have to fix what is here, with a proposal to fix a lot of the pieces. We want to make sure that blended PHEVs are part of the program. I would like that the focus on this discussion be on the 2012-2014 time period, but that within a year we behind the process of starting from scratch, overhauling the whole ZEV program.

—Daniel Sperling

Sperling suggested spinning off PZEVs (the bronze category) to a coming LEV III program, to spin off AT-PZEVs (Silver, mostly hybrids and some CNG) to the Pavley 1493 program (the law for regulating new vehicle greenhouse gas emissions) when that is enforced and implemented.

That ends up with us focused back on the real focus on ZEV from the beginning, and what is appropriate now: battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles. We should come up with a much simpler program. This should be at least as aggressive as the Phase IV program [2015-2017] in the current proposal.

—Daniel Sperling



stas peterson

Once agaain the CAREBite idiots are acting like spoiled children. They want what they want, and won't be moved by any rational thought at all.

FCEVs are a long time from commercialization and are not even clean! Certainly they don't pollute whan they are furnished with Hydrogen but making the hydrogen is much, much, "dirtier" than any electric or even gasoline in a PZEV hybrid.

You can only make Hydrogen by using prodigious amounts of electricity in electrolysis; using electricty that you had to make with fossil. Or you make it out of fossil in a dirty energy intensive cracking process.

Well-to-wheel is much less clean for their stupid desires for FCEVs.


Stas, how does Hydrogen require electricity generated from fossil fuels versus electricity generated from renewable methods? Since, unlike electricity demand, liquid fuel doesn't need to be scaled constantly, using intermittent renewables that produce a certain amount of energy over a long time period for Hydrogen production doesn't seem out of the question.


Yeah, but
1. Storing Hydrogen is a pain
2. Storing Electricity as Hydrogen is very inefficient
3. Creating Hydrogen with electricity takes 3-4x more renewables to get the same quality of electricity if it were stored on an electric car battery
4. Creating hydrogen using California grid average electricity is dirtier than gasoline.


I'm not at all certain that I understand what it is that the CARB folks are doing? Shouldn't the goal be to set ZEV quotas and standards by the actual vehicle emissions rather then by the technology used? Set your emission threshold then let the market pick the technologies to match.
Now on the other hand those that constantly winge about hydrogen need to get a little smarter too. True the methods of production aren't good now, but it's not an either/or problem. CARB is looking at improving the output device, i.e. the vehicle, not the overall cycle. There is nothing to say that as the vehicles become available the production side problems won't be solved as well. There are several developments that (while only lab level experiments at present) have appeared to improve catalytic production of hydrogen in sunlight from water (artificial photosynthesis). These may well introduce solutions to current "dirty" or inefficient methods of hydrogen production. Why not try and have the best propulsion method for using this fuel when we can make it cheaply and cleanly? I fail to see the problem with it, especially as the long term disposal of batteries and other pure electric vehicle parts also has problems. As does the manufacturing pollution problem of producing them.
If I was to feel that any non perfect solution should be scrapped I would probably say that the only "proper" thing to do is equip all vehicles with a compressed air tank, and have you hook up to an electrical air compressor in your home each night. Then you don't have to worry about nasty high voltages or all that evil chemical electrolyte in the batteries, only good clean air. Why I could even make the case that topping off at a compressed air service station is far faster then most electrical charging schemes I've seen.
See how easy it is to dismiss any tech that isn't your pet technology? For myself I say go ahead and pursue all of them. Let cost and market forces determine winners. If the advocates for it can deliver it cheaply and meet the emissions goals, more power to them. If hydrogen is so fundamentally flawed it will fail, and the companies with battery electric will win.
So enough of the hydrogen bashing already.



I agree that a focus on emissions rather than technologies might make more sense. However, you postulate that clean hydrogen production might be possible in the future, and imply that CARB is right to champion H2 after all. Seems inconsistent. Regarding environmental problems with batteries, why can't they be recycled? Almost 100% of lead acid batteries are.

Hydrogen bashing, and bashing in general, is our job. It's our role, as independent scientists, engineers, (and Internet cranks,) to call them as we see them, to serve as a counterweight to the self-interested promoters of various technologies.


Hello stan and grey.

Remember folks up until now all the fuelcells were designed to kust be a certain side and put out x power... thats all they targetted because they were all demo units.

The volt fcev uses a less then 40% eff fuelcell. The equinox wasnt even that good.

Now the goal is 75 by 2012 and thats 4 years away and honda has a 60% model. Just that alone would give a volt fc a range of 450 miles plus and a fuel econ of 113 mpk.

Get 75 and your tanking almost 600 miles and 150 mpk and that is after the battery depeles...

And by 2018 they are talking 80 85% and thus even better milage.

Ib the end you will be dealing with 90 plus eff electrolysis as yes 85 is already here.

In the end you wont need to compress the h2.

In the end the fc will be 85 even 90 plus eff.

Ib the end we will be running a long way on little fuel abd however much battery we care to buy and we wont give a rats flaming farts about all these old arguements because it will work and be cheap and the co2 headache will be big bis headache not ours.

In the end the bev will give way to the fc for the same reason betamac fell to vhs. When both options are cheap the one that does more wins and yes sooner then you think even fc will be cheap.


I read that advocates for electric cars are planning demonstrations at the State Capitol in Sacramento driving their electric cars around to show the technology is practical today. Seems to me that there is both demand and a practical application for Electric Vehicles today, and companies like ZAP are doing a good job making them available to people.


This and past changes to the program are just additional proof that you can not mandate change. All this is doing is wasting time and money. If they want to do something they should just make recommendations. Free market systems do an amazingly good job of filtering out good from bad technology (how many people do you know that own laser disk players vs. DVD). Forcing them to pursue potentially bad technology for the sake of compliance is a huge waste of resources.


"In the end you wont need to compress the h2."

Will be be driving blimps?


"In the end you wont need to compress the h2."

Will we be driving blimps?


@NiraliSherni: Are you paid by ZAP to mention them in every comment you make? Can I pay you more not to? What's the going rate for a Bangladeshi commenter these days?


CARB changes their program so often it's impossible for manufacturers to make plans. They're worse than useless, they actually generate significant damage. Look at Phoenix. They had a great business plan except for one thing -- it relied on CARB regulations which have repeatedly proven to be completely unreliable.

Rafael Seidl

Good to see CARB is admitting that ZEV is broken in the sense that it has become overly complex and unwieldy. Unfortunately, the agency does not appear to have grasped why the mandate became so convoluted in the first place: its focus on sexy gee-whiz technology instead of plain old public asset metrics (air quality, GHG emissions, traffic density, traffic safety). After all, the car is only one mode of transportation and ZEVs only one way to mitigate only one set of its environmental impacts.

CARB is pushing the reset button because the car-centric technologies it has been promoting are long-term and severely dependent on cross-subsidies between auto manufacturers' product lines. At the heart of the problem is the underlying assumption that these new, very green drivetrains have to be drop-in replacements for the ICE in terms of performance, range and time to refuel/recharge - which isn't true, especially given that many families own multiple cars. For every full-featured FCV or BEV, a manufacturer currently has to heavily market and then sell a boatload of SUVs just to break even. PHEVs and E-REVs will reduce but not eliminate this counterproductive impact.

The SUV boom has led to something of an arms race on California's roads, with average vehicle size and weight going through the roof - and fleet average fuel economy down the drain. Indeed, crash incompatibility is the #1 argument against NEVs and electric bicycles, the only true personal ZEVs that are affordable. Hard-to-park large vehicles, along with other factors incl. seismic risk, promote low-density suburban sprawl - the exact opposite of what you need to promote the high-quality, integrated public transport alternatives that improve all of the aforementioned public asset metrics simultaneously.

Therefore, I would suggest that instead of merely unbundling ZEV into three separate successor mandates, California politicians need to shift to formulating - and especially - marketing an integrated transportation-centric master plan to support population growth, economic growth and environmental objectives. CARB absolutely needs to contribute, but the lead agency needs to be at a higher level. Its remit should include all transportation modes at all scales, from telecommunications to air travel.

This year, California will take another - possibly final - stab at a ballot initiative (BI) for high speed rail (HSR).

Like CARB's auto ZEV mavens, the HSR authority is technology-centric and should therefore be a key contributor, not the lead agency, for the state's transportation future. Specifically, the success of the HSR ballot initiative will depend critically on voter confidence that there will also be adequate investment in and integration with local feeder systems, i.e. regional heavy rail, light rail, buses/sharecabs, P+R and bicycles/walking, as appropriate.

As architect Mies van der Rohe once put it, the devil is in the details: for convenience, both walking distances and wait states at these intermodal connections have to be minimal. Also, stations and the surrounding areas have to be clean and perceived as safe, even at night. Without a state-level organization explicitly chartered with intermodal transportation, successful implementation will be a hit-and-miss affair, with sharply divergent levels of door-to-door service from county to county.

stas peterson


I respect your thoughtful observations.

I would suggest though that concentration of peoples into high density locations, in effect turning Southern California into a Manhattan is not as effective in reducing the need for transport, as you would on the surface believe. Just because a person is located one place or another does not remove the necessity to provide a certain quantity of physical inputs and outputs. In short people consume and excrete, the same quantities wherever that they are. These products will need to be moved irrespective of whether the people themselves are highly centralized or dispersed.

The conversion from one degree of concentration to another would consume several centuries, given the lifetime of the physical assets. It is nothing that will occur rapidly, Seeking to force one to the other, as a method for energy savings, in transport will, in the end, produce little change of total requirements.

Rafael Seidl

@ Stan Peterson -

I was referring to passenger travel. Freight will have to continue, as you indicate. Bulk goods will use freight trains, the rest typically gets moved in trucks. All the more reason then to avoid clogging the existing freeways with passenger cars, each typically occupied with just one person.

Improvements in long-distance trucking are possible, e.g. adaptive cruise control to exploit slipstreams. Also, road trains with GPS-assisted steering in every one of multiple trailers (cp. Frauenhofer AutoTram) to safely navigate tight bends. This makes sense for high-value low-density goods.

Another option is putting trucks on flatbed cars for part of the journey, e.g. at night when drivers have to sleep anyhow. Austria operates such a system to alleviate congestion and pollution at the Brenner Pass on the Italian border.

Note that high-speed rail could in principle support high priority freight like fresh seafood and express package service, competing against in-state air freight. The rolling stock would be a cargo version of regular HSR, i.e. light duty only. EMU designs such as the new Alstom AGV would preferable, as they do not require any locomotive shunting. The superstructure of each car would support two rows of cargo bays; these would be used for containers similar to those used in air cargo. To ensure good aerodynamics, the cars would feature loading doors that open vertically and a low-slung roof supported by columns. For rapid turnaround, multiple forklift trucks would be used on either side of each car to load and unload containers. After all, the whole point of high-speed rail freight is high speed.

The hard part is getting bypasses serving freight terminals sited along the HSR lines such that the average speed of passenger trains is not noticeably affected. This is probably the main reason HSRF is not yet a reality even in Japan or France.


The main fixer of our current problems in cal will be the great quake.

As for mass transit... we need a more personal more flexablee system such as prt to fill in all the raging gaps mass transit has left behind. I would suggest combining a persons car with an automated electric flatcar sized kist for light duty xars and suvs and run on an ultralight rail overhead.
As far as in town/city id suggest moving to automayed mini bevs and charging stations with simple pasted on the street lines of markers for the tiny cars to follow from place to place and enough room in the car for you and some styff and maybe a kid or 3.

A fleet of mass produced 4-5k cars vs a small fleet of 2 million dollar busses and the cost of drivers....

In the end I expect fleets of minicars with el cheapo small fuelcells and cheap little fueltanks... sat a 4kw stack and .5 kilo tank will buzz around most cities.

John Taylor

Another case of "take a program with a reasonable plan and ""improve"" it so it no longer works.

Battery electric vehicles need to be valued higher than hydrogen vehicles, just because they are more efficient, and cleaner.

The higher standard of a 25,000 target needed kept rather than sneaking in the 2,500 pittance of a tithe.

We need a future on the planet, not an excuse for destruction.

stas peterson

The CARB staff recommended reducing the FCEV requirement but not eleiminating it, to 2500 vehicles. That at a cost to the auto makers of "only" 845 million dollars.

And with a continuing demand to build fuel cells that cannot be substituted with any other electric vehicles,no matter how many produced. Hence the "Gold", "Silver+(?)", "Silver", and "Bronze" vehicle categories.

The CARB idiots refused to have their playtoy lost or even minimized; and reverted to an even more complex formula that by CARB's own economists, notoriously optomistic, placed a cost to the autoamkers and then us, at "only" $992 million, or a round Billion dollars.

Do you have a spare billion or probally three to indulge the tantrums of the CARB idiots?

I don't. That would buy a lot of real and genuine improvement. For example, if the domestic market was 16 million vehicles per annum, and the cost for a minimal hybrid was as much as 150 dollars (cost) per vehicle, you could equip the entire annual production with limited hybrid capability for one quarter of the cost of that mere one billion dollars for their CARBite toys.

Now limited hybrid functionality only improves mileage by 15% or so. Doing that would merely remove 15% of oil demand, fifteen per cent of CO2 output, 15% of real toxic pollutants. So what if the air in California (and countrywide) was 15% cleaner? Who really cares?

If I were the automakers, I would just ignore their stupid desires and call their bluff,just like all but threeor four did once before. They wil back down, as they have always done, rather than block market access.

Especially, when the automakers are shipping and selling tens, or hundreds, of thousands of HEV, PHEV and EREVs, instead.

I repeat it's time for pensions and gold watches... and don't let the doorknob hit you in the arse as you leave.


Relying on the "free market system", will bring us nothing but General Motors and Ford revisited.
It's like playing football without rules,we had 60 years of relying on wall street and the banksters.
We still would not have seat belts,airbags and other safety features,if we solely put our faith in the corporate world.
Just look at the way they are fighting tooth and nail to
prevent the clean diesels from coming here.
There is virtually no automotive engineering done in the US other than chincing down the available cars of theirs.


As I recall, the ZEV laws led to the creation of EV1, RAV4EV and other vehicles. It was only after the automakers complained and the ZEV laws were rewritten that the legal actions and supposed uncertainty occurred.

The old phrase is "no good deed goes unpunished". The ZEV laws were changed to accommodate the automakers, then charges of uncertainty due to changing laws started to occur.

All the automakers that sell vehicles in California were part of the process to begin with, but when you negotiate with parties that will not be reasonable, you often do not make much progress.

The California Air Resources Board wants to clean up the air in California. This is in the best interests of everyone that breathes the air in California. The automakers want to make profits for their shareholders. The people and their governments need to decide where the most good for the most people occurs.

CARB idiots

Carb killed the electric car once again by bundling it in the same pot with the hydrogen madness. Has anybody build a singe hydrogen vehicle for less than $1,000,000 yet? I rest my case.


I personally feel that the EV died a while back because automakers figured that they could fight the laws in court and tie it up, if not win. While it was tied up in court, the ZEV laws were relaxed to try to give the automakers more time and the companies used that gesture to get the whole set of laws brought into question.

If the ZEV laws were never changed then the EV would have HAD to be developed, or there would be consequences. It would have forced car makers to advance the state of the art. While you can not force creativity on a schedule, you can give it an incentive to move along at a good pace.


Interestingly, the move back to EV enthusiasm was mandated not by legislation (since the teeth were removed) but rather by a grass roots desire for change. The Prius, selling 80% into the US proved to the auto industry there was a market and money to be made in hybrid/EV products. We are now on our way to the full electrification of transport in NA and have done so with a minimum of punitive legislation.

What does this mean? Probably that education influencing population precedes social movement to a desired goal. Legislation of the confiscatory kind - is usually met with opposition, foot dragging and avoidance. Where legislation is needed is in financial incentives to lower the cost of entry into new technology, i.e. tax credits for purchases of PHEVs, biofuels, solar, wind etc.


It wasnt the car makers or anyone who killed the ev earl on it simply wasnt its time yet.

It isnt anyone who caused it to now be its time.

It was a generation of tech mavens and one little but powerful word.


With cell phones and all else tech itself became FUN.

And it was fun that made japan able to make the prius early on because they found it fun.

Thats what powered the dub rise the sports car rise the van rise waay back the muscle car rise and so much more... FUN.

And obce people stopped vomiting facts and numbers and enviro mantras... once they simply said Its FUN thats when the car makers moved.

Thats also whats moving fuel cells and h2. It is fun and beyond all else in the car industry FUN IS ALL.

Henry Gibson

Seat belts, catalytic converters, safety seats and some fuel economy standards are, as mentioned, all the result of laws. California doomed itself by accepting deregulation in the power industry. ZEVs have always been possible. The TH!NK has one battery option that was available in 1995.

ZEVs are more than stupid because everybody gets lost talking about the range when ten pounds of fuel in a tank gives infinite range with quick refueling. A battery that can get about 50 to 100 miles is sufficient, and then have two built in tiny diesel electric generators that only run at full efficiency or not at all under computer controll. There will never be a fuel cell system that can beat the effiency, and the cost of small standardized diesel electric generators can be forced very low quickly. Fuel Cells will never be cheap enough for production cars!!!! Special filters and catalytic converters can eliminate any diesel particulates...General Electric has tested hybrid locomotives and mining trucks very successfully.

There are plenty of ways to make a fuel burning zero emmission vehicle. And hydrogen and lithium ion batteries are not even good answers, but LIon batteries will always be bettery than fuel cells for cars....hg...

The comments to this entry are closed.