Clean Cars Program


The California Air Resources Board adopted its “Advanced Clean Cars” package in January 2012, and the rule officially became law in August 2012. The Low Emission Vehicle and Zero Emission Vehicle regulations are components of the Advanced Clean Cars program.

At President Obama’s direction, California worked with the U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for model-years 2017–2025. In August 2012, the Obama Administration announced that it had finalized its National Program, which “harmonizes” federal and California vehicle standards. As part of the process, California agreed to accept the federal standards as sufficient to protect the state’s citizens. However, California retains independent authority under the Clean Air Act to adopt its own laws that are stronger than the federal rules, should the state deem it necessary to do so. California is the only state with this unique Clean Air Act authority, and other states can choose to follow its lead.

As part of the 2012 National Program, the parties agreed to conduct a midterm review in 2017 for the model years 2022-2025. The goal of the review is to assess technology and market progress and allow for adjustments, if needed. California is also simultaneously conducting its own Midterm review of its Low Emission Vehicle and Zero Emission Vehicle rules.

Low Emission Vehicle Program

“LEV III” ensures new cars and light trucks produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog. Adopted in 2012, LEV III updated the state’s current vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards, which originally passed in 2004 and applied to model-year vehicles 2009–2016. The updated GHG rules apply to model-year vehicles 2017–2025. The updated LEV III smog rules apply to vehicles starting in 2014. Learn more about the LEV III program.

Zero Emission Vehicle Program

California’s ZEV Program, administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), requires major manufacturers of passenger vehicles and light trucks (pickups and SUVs) to sell an increasing percentage of ZEVs in a given year. Automakers gain ZEV credits, a form of regulatory currency, for each ZEV they sell. ARB intended the program to result in over 15 percent of all new cars, pickups and SUVs sold in the state being ZEVs by 2025. Learn more about the Zero Emission Vehicle Program.