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January 21, 1997 (916) 322-2990
ARB Approves Emission Limits for Off-Road Vehicles
SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board has adopted standards that will require off-road vehicles, including motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, go-carts and specialty work vehicles, to meet emission control limits that are already in effect for some types of lawn and garden equipment.
The standards cover vehicles which also are used on the highway, while those that are used exclusively for competition are exempted.
In addition, the new rules require all new golf carts sold in regions that exceed federal standards for ozone to be electrically powered after 1997, accelerating an existing trend toward electrics, which already makeup 60 percent of California's fleet.
ARB data shows that there are about 357,000 off-road vehicles presently registered in California. Many of them emit 50 times more pollution than a current model passenger car, reflecting their lack of regulation in the past and designs that emphasize performance over fuel economy. Combined, those vehicles emit about 50 tons per day of ozone-forming hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide (approx. 1.3 percent of mobile source emissions) and another 167 tons of carbon monoxide each day.
Overall, the ARB's new standards are expected to reduce hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides by nearly 80 percent and carbon monoxide emissions by 60 percent.
Manufacturers are expected to meet the standards with the same approaches used to meet 1999 emission limits for utility tools, many of which use the same engines. That technology includes the use of lightweight catalytic converters and more efficient fuel systems, as well as replacing some two-stroke engines with more efficient four-stroke models.
The Board has estimated compliance costs will range between $25 and $250 per vehicle for motorcycles and ATVs with horsepower ratings of 25 or greater. For vehicles with lower horsepower ratings, the ARB estimates that the control costs will range between $66 and $100.
ARB Chairwoman Jacqueline Schafer said, "There vehicles emit far more pollution than a new car and are very similar in design to those found on common lawnmowers and chainsaws, which the ARB already has set control limits for, which should make compliance easy to plan."
The rules on gas-powered motorcycles and ATVs require 1997 emission limits of 1.2 grams per kilometer for hydrocarbon, compared to typical emission levels of 15.0 gr/km. The new emission limits will cut emissions from most four-stroke off-road motorcycles by half and require the use of catalytic converters in most new two-stroke bikes built after 1996. Also, the new requirements allow manufacturers of ATV and motorcycle engines with 90cc and smaller displacement sizes an additional two years to meet the new emission limits, requiring compliance by 1998.
The Board exempted engines with less than 50cc displacement weights, which are mainly on small motorcycles and go-carts to train children to ride safely, because they normally have low sales volumes and are not large contributors to air pollution.
The new standards also set limits for 1995-1998 model specialty vehicles, which include hotel and air maintenance vehicles, which are required to meet standards set for 1997 for lawn and garden equipment. The standards also call for 1997 model specialty vehicles and go-carts above 25 hp to meet emission limits adopted for utility engines by 1999.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.
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