The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has classified the Chevrolet Volt as a ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle), not the Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) or a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) that most of us were expecting.
The reasoning behind this head-scratcher deals with the way in which CARB conducts its emissions tests. The organization doesn’t have a test for only electric-powered cars. Instead, all of its tests are done with the gas engine running. Despite the fact that the Volt is fully capable of emissions-free electric driving, it uses a gasoline engine for trips exceeding the nearly 50 mile pure-electric range. Therefore, CARB found it reasonable to test the Volt in extended-range mode only. During the tests, the Volt’s gas engine emitted 1.3 g/km which is 0.3 g/km above what’s allowed for SULEV & PZEV vehicles. Sounds like a fair test, right? We’ll let you make the call on that.
So what does this mean for the Chevrolet Volt? For most people, it will not be a big deal. But all those who want a Volt in California may want to pay attention: since the Volt isn’t a SULEV or PZEV-class vehicle, it does not qualify for the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes that lower-emission vehicles otherwise get. However, both the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf qualify for the stickers due to their lower emissions rating score.
What happens next? Well, California will be re-issuing carpool lane stickers to the first 40,000 vehicles that are rated as a PZEV. GM could either pressure CARB into updating its testing procedures or re-engineer the Volt to emit 1.0 g/km or less… or simply do nothing.
Source: Inside Line