California Air Resources Board Votes to Modify ZEV Program in Short-Term; Complete Overhaul to Begin for New ZEV II
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|
|Proposal||Gold vehicles||Silver+ Vehicles||Annual Cost|
|Staff proposal||2,500||75,000||$875M (baseline)|
|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