Alan Lloyd's comments are reprinted from Green Car Journal, .
When the California Air Resources Board revamped its Zero Emissions Vehicle program in 2004, the most impressive change was not better batteries or more aerodynamic designs but a whole new class of car called the Partial Zero Emission Vehicle, or PZEV.
While advanced-technology fuel cell vehicles have garnered worldwide attention, PZEVs are shaping up as the unsung heroes of the California ZEV program. With annual sales estimated to be 140,000 vehicles, they are already the most recognizable and certainly the most heavily used cars in the program because they are affordable and use technology that is familiar to consumers.
CARB estimates that more than 850,000 PZEVs will be on California roads by 2010 with more than 1 million by 2015. We hope the sales of
AT-PZEVs - Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicles, e.g. hybrids - another jewel in the ZEV program, will follow the dramatic increase in sales of PZEVs.
CARB created the PZEV class to address the growing number of new models that carry some zero emissions technology but still release emissions from the tailpipe. Those vehicles are easy to obtain because of their relatively low sales costs, and they often perform better than their conventional counterparts as well.
Technology such as zero evaporative emissions - meaning no emissions from anywhere other than the tailpipe - is standard on every car with the PZEV label. The vehicles' emissions systems also must be warranted for 150,000 miles so that second, third and maybe even fourth owners of those cars will still be
driving vehicles that are clean-running. That is a key component since the least fortunate members of the population usually drive the highest-emitting vehicles, thus further degrading what are often the most heavily polluted communities.
The original ZEV requirement, of course, contained nothing like a PZEV category. It is truly a product of the zero emissions requirement, which pushed manufacturers to work harder to develop cars that are affordable, clean-running and attractive. It is a living testament to the wonderful ability and creativity of outstanding engineers.
Currently, 20 PZEV models offered by 12 manufacturers are sold in California, ranging from the Ford Focus to the BMW 325. They are mostly small to mid-sized cars with equipment that appeals to most buyers, at prices you don't have to be in high income brackets to afford.
One of the most attractive things about PZEVs is their clean-running ability. Another requirement for designating a vehicle as PZEV is that it must meet the world's toughest tailpipe emissions standard for internal combustion engines, the SULEV, or Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, standard, and the vehicle must maintain that clean-running standard throughout its useful life.
That standard, coupled with the zero evaporative emission requirement, makes them the cleanest gasoline-engine vehicles ever produced.
Perhaps for convenience, the most appealing feature of PZEVs is that they are gasoline powered. The familiarity of gasoline and affordable prices make PZEVs the ideal vehicles for people who want to participate in cleaning their air but are leery of new technologies such as fuel cells, battery power or even hybrids.
With those features and their low acquisition costs, PZEVs may have another impact on the car-buying public that is more far-reaching than any other: the introduction of young drivers to highly efficient, low-polluting technology. Those young drivers are the beneficiaries of 15 years of work on the ZEV program by government and industry experts to perfect ideas for cleaner cars.
PZEVs today are equipped with virtually every important air pollution control technology available for gasoline-powered passenger cars. As a result, young drivers get to learn the advantages of those technological breakthroughs in the course of their everyday lives without having to make sacrifices or compromises in quality, durability, or costs in the vehicles they drive.