Zero-Emission Vehicle Legal and Regulatory Activities and Background

This page last reviewed October 27, 2014

The ARB has been the leader in the development of programs designed to reduce emissions from mobile sources. Mobile sources account for well over half of the emissions which contribute to ozone and particulate matter air pollution in California. Zero-Emission vehicles (ZEVs) and near-zero emission vehicles are a key element of California's plan for attaining health-based air quality standards. See ZEV Program Background for a timeline of ZEV related acitivities.

Current ZEV Regulations

The following files contain the latest “clean” versions (without underline and strikeout) of the California ZEV regulations. Find links to the LEV regulations here.

bullet 2009 - 2017 Model Year Requirements (CCR Section 1962.1)

bullet 2018 and Subsequent Model Year Requirements (CCR Section 1962.2)

bullet Electric Vehicle Charger Requirements (CCR Section 1962.3)


ZEV Program Activities

2010 - 2012
California's Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations were amended, known as LEV III, to more stringent tailpipe and greenhouse gas emission standards for new passenger vehicles. Combining the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package of standards is a new approach to ARB's motor vehicle standards.
Regulatory development of ZEV Program as part of Advanced Clean Cars
Staff went to the Board in December 2009 per Resolution 08-23, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) directed staff to review the ZEV regulation, keeping in mind California’s long term air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals. Here you will find documents relating to this update to the Board
In 2009, Staff held a ZEV Technology Symposium to learn about the status of ZEV technologies. Here you will find presentations and information from the Symposium.
In 2009 staff investigated infrastructure as part of the 2009 ZEV Program Review. For more information about the 2009 ZEV Review, visit the 2009 ZEV Symposium web site.
2007- 2008
ARB staff went to the Board in March 2008 to consider amendments to the California Zero Emission Vehicle regulation. This link provides access to the hearing notice, staff report, modified regulatory text and all other documents pertaining to the 2008 ZEV rulemaking.
In preparation for the 2008 ZEV Rulemaking, in 2007, ARB conductd a technology review by convening an Expert Review Panel in 2007 to summarize technology status through site visits with automakers and suppliers as well as conducting a 2006 ZEV Technology Symposium in September 2006.
In 2006, Staff held a ZEV Technology Symposium to learn about the status of ZEV technologies. Here you will find presentations and information from the 2006 Symposium.
Get formal regulatory documents regarding the including the 2003 Rulemaking and other activities.
Resolution of ZEV Litigation

Agreement of Counsel Concerning the 2001 California ZEV Litigation (Signed 8/12/03)

  • Exhibit A: Agreement Concerning the 2001 California ZEV Litigation (the "Parties' Agreement")
  • Exhibit B: Stipulation and [Proposed] Order Extending Preliminary Injunction in Federal Lawsuit
  • Exhibit C: Media Statement
Application of Early Introduction Multipliers to ZEVs - Rescission of November 21, 2002 Letter
This letter is to advise manufacturers of the rescission of the November 21, 2002, letter regarding the issue of a "sell-by date" by which a 2002 model year ZEV would need to be placed in service in order to qualify for the 4.0 multiplier under California Code of Regulations, Title 13, Section 1962(d)(3).
2001 ZEV

Get information regarding the January 2001 Zero-Emission Vehicle Rulemaking Changes.
Get information regarding the 2001 ZEV Infrastructure Rulemaking

Get information regarding the September 7 and 8, 2000, Zero-Emission Vehicle Biennial Review.

1998 ZEV Biennial Update
Board Meeting Notice Re: ARB's ZEV Program and ZEV Technologies    

1998 Zero-Emission Vehicle Biennial Program Review (Dated July 6, 1998) (WP6 - 231K) or (PDF - 156K)

This page contains the formal regulatory documents from the March 28, 1996, rulemaking on the elimination of ZEV production requirements for the 1998-2002 model years.
ZEV Program Credit Tracking   
Manufacturers Advisory Correspondence (MAC) 2011-01 for ZEV credit reporting and tracking. MAC 06-03 provides vehicle manufacturers and other interested parties with the format to be used for reporting ZEV deliveries and placements to determine ZEV credit compliance.
Executive Orders For information regarding Zero Emission Vehicle executive orders, please contact Krista Eley at (916) 322-2333.
Criterion for Fast Refueling Capability and Advanced Technology Demonstration Program
Manufacturers Advisory Correspondence (MAC) 2006-02 for fast refueling capability criterion and advanced technology demonstration applications

ZEV Regulatory Background


The Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation was first adopted in 1990 as part of the Low Emission Vehicle Program.  Although it has been modifed several times over the years, as shown in the timeline on page four, it still remains an important program for California’s air quality and has spurred many new technologies that are being driven on California’s roads.

While critics maintain that the ZEV regulation is a failure, in reality many successes have come out of the regulation.  For instance, nearly 2 million Californians are driving partial zero and advanced technology partial zero emission vehicles (PZEV and AT PZEV).  These vehicles have near-zero tailpipe emissions, zero evaporative emissions and an extended emissions warranty of 15 years or 150,000 miles.  In fact, they are 80% cleaner than the average 2002 model year car.

In addition to the variety of PZEVs and AT PZEVs available, gas-electric hybrid vehicles are also a success.  With more than 400,000 hybrids on California’s roads, they give consumers a way to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.  Although these “near- zero” emission vehicles provide critical pollution reductions in the near term, with the increases in California’s population and in the number of miles we travel each day, we must continue to pursue pure zero emission transportation technologies.

The Board’s motivation has always been to have zero emission technologies on the roads on a mass scale as soon as possible. Whether using fuel cells, battery electric vehicles, or other technologies, our commitment to zero emissions has never wavered. Our strategy, however, has appropriately considered the state of technology, market factors, economic impact, and our mission.

The ZEV Program Timeline:

1990 California embarked on a plan to reduce vehicle emissions to zero through the introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program.  At that time, the Board required that in 1998, 2% of the vehicles that large manufacturers produced for sale in California had to be ZEVs, increasing to 5% in 2001 and 10% in 2003.
1996 The ZEV mandate was adjusted to eliminate the “ramp up” years but left in place the 10% ZEV requirement for 2003, and again in 1998 to allow partial ZEV (PZEV) credits for extremely clean vehicles that were not pure ZEVs.  The underlying goal, however, never changed.  California remained committed to seeing increasing numbers of ZEVs in the vehicle fleet.  The challenge was determining how to reach this goal.
2001 The challenge at this time was to maintain progress towards commercialization of ZEVs, while recognizing constraints due to cost, lead-time, and technical challenges.  The 2001 modifications allowed large manufacturers to meet their ZEV requirement with 2% pure ZEVs, 2% Advanced Technology PZEVS and 6% PZEVs.
2002 Due to a lawsuit filed against the Board, a federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited the Board from enforcing the 2001 ZEV amendments with respect to the sale of new motor vehicles in model years 2003 or 2004.  Once the Board adopted the 2003 Amendments to the ZEV regulation, the parties to the lawsuits agreed to end the litigation.
2003 In order to address the preliminary injunction and better align the program requirements with the status of technology development, staff proposed additional modifications to the ZEV regulation in March 2003.  The reasons and benefits are described above.
2006 ARB held a Technology Symposium and an Independent Expert Review Panel submitted their report on the status of all ZEV technologies.
2007 Staff went to the Board in early 2007 with the information gathered from the Symposium as well as the report from the Independent Expert Review Panel.  The Board determined that staff should recommend changes to the regulation for the 2009 and subsequent model years.
2008 The Board approved modifications to the regulation at the March 27, 2008 hearing.  The Board also directed staff to redesign the ZEV Program so it will affect the 2015+ model years.
2009 The Board heard about staff's plans to redesign the ZEV program (2009 ZEV Review)
2010 The Board adopted Regulatory Changes to the ZEV program
2012 ARB adopts Advanced Clean Cars
2013 Staff will present regulatory changes to the ZEV program