ZEV FAQ

What are ZEVs?
Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), are vehicles that have an electric powertrain that produces zero tailpipe emissions. There are several types of ZEVs, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that run solely on electricity, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that use both electricity and gasoline, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), which generate electricity from hydrogen.
What are the differences between the different types of ZEVs?
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are fueled solely by electricity, and are charged from an electrical outlet or special charging equipment, storing the electricity in a lithium-ion battery pack. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) also rely on a battery, but have a gasoline engine as well. In some PHEVs, the gasoline takes over once the battery is depleted, while others may drive in a “blended” mode that takes power from both powertrains. Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are fueled with compressed hydrogen gas, which is passed through a fuel cell to generate electricity, which then powers an electric motor
Which type of ZEV is right for me?

Because they run on electricity alone, BEVs maximize the fuel savings that come from using electricity, which typically costs about 1/3 as much as gasoline on a per-mile basis. The range a BEV can travel on a single charge varies depending on the capacity of its battery, with the Nissan LEAF traveling approximately 85 miles before refueling. BEVs work well as commuter cars for those looking to save money on fuel.

With both a battery and a range-extending gasoline engine, PHEVs can benefit from both the low price of electricity as a transportation fuel, as well as the extended range provided by the conventional engine. Different PHEV models have batteries of different capacity, which dictates the range the vehicle can travel on electricity alone before the gasoline engine activates. PHEVs work well for drivers who want a middle ground between the benefits of electric drive and the longer range offered by gasoline.

At this point, FCVs are available only in small volumes in the state of California, but manufacturers plan to offer these vehicles more widely in the future.

For more information on specific ZEV models, head over to the Vehicles page.

What is the ZEV Program?

Ten states (the eight MOU states plus Maine and New Jersey), representing 28 percent of the automobile market in the United States, have embarked on an ambitious effort to revolutionize the transportation sector by requiring increasing sales of zero-emission vehicles under the auspices of the California low-emission vehicle (LEV) program. The annual sales requirements in state programs are modest at the outset, but increase over time, anticipating that demand will expand as consumers become more familiar with a growing range of continually improving ZEV products. By 2025, about 15 percent of new vehicles sold in the participating states will be required to be ZEVs.

LEV programs, authorized by the federal Clean Air Act, have been a critical component of states’ air quality improvement plans for many years, and have been a major contributor to the successful commercialization of hybrid-electric vehicles and ultra-low-emission technologies. The ZEV component of the program provides manufacturers substantial flexibility through mechanisms such as credit banking and trading, alternative compliance options, cross-state credit pooling, and by allowing manufacturers to develop their preferred compliance strategy using FCEVs, BEVs, PHEVs, or some combination of these technologies.

The market demand created by these state programs can further lower ZEV costs through economies of scale and help expand the range of product lines available to consumers. Accelerating the ZEV market will help states protect public health and the environment by reducing transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and will enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth.

For more information on the program, visit the California Air Resources Board ZEV Program website.

What is the Multi-State ZEV Task Force?

The Multi-State ZEV Task Force was created by the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, to develop and implement a strategy for increasing zero-emission vehicle deployment in the eight states. In October 2013, the governors signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing the signatory states to 3.3 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. In May 2014, the Task Force released a ZEV Action Plan identifying priority multi-state actions to grow the market for electric vehicles in the region.