What Does the EV Mean?

It’s on the back end.

It’s in the commercials.

It’s in the new Volkswagen Passat marketing.

In hopes of selling more Passats in North America after plunging sales trends, Volkswagen has begun touting the sedan’s PZEV rating. The PZEV rating?

The rating system began as part of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Low-Emission Vehicle program in 1990 in an effort to move vehicle manufacturers toward developing zero-emission vehicles.  Since 1990 it has evolved to include ratings for zero-emission vehicles down to the minimum standard California will allow.

This CARB program has become the industry standard with most manufacturers with vehicles being sold in the US market using the ratings in their marketing campaigns.

The ratings at the time of this writing (they are currently being revised for the 2015 model year) are as follows:

  • LEV – Low Emission Vehicle is the least stringent standard for new cars sold in California after 2004—sometimes used in a general sense to designate a vehicle with relatively low emissions.  The least stringent used to be a Transitional Low Emission Vehicle.  These were phased out in 2004.
  • ULEV – An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle emits 50% less polluting emissions than the average vehicle for the model year.
  • SULEV – A Super Low Emission Vehicle emits substantially lower pollutants and is 90% cleaner than the average vehicle for the model year.  The SULEV category includes a number of hybrids.
  • PZEV – A Partial Zero Emission Vehicle meets the SULEV standards and has a 15 year/150,000 mile warranty on its emission control components—the warranty must extend to electric propulsion components in hybrids.
  • AT PZEV – An Advanced Technology PZEV meets the PZEV standard and either uses no gasoline or uses a hybrid electric system to dramatically improve fuel efficiency.
  • ZEV – A Zero Emission Vehicle produces zero tailpipe emissions.  A ZEV is considered to be 98% cleaner than the average new 2003 vehicle.
 photo courtesy of motortrend.com
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