Green Car Congress
January 20, 2010

ARB staff posts expert review reports of the ZEV technical analysis.

The staff of the California Air Resources Board has posted the expert review reports of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) technical analysis. Four external experts—Dr. Menahem Anderman, President, Advanced Automotive Batteries; Dr. David Greene, Corporate Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Dr. Joan Ogden, Professor and Research Director, University of California, Davis; and Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni, Professor and Research Director, Ohio State University—were invited to provide independent scientific advice on the ZEV documents released by staff on 25 November 2009.

ARB staff then published a white paper summarizing possible changes to the ZEV regulation along with attachments on ZEV technology status; a 2050 GHG analysis; and complimentary policies. Very broadly, ARB staff is making a number of major recommendation to the Board in reworking the ZEV regulation, including focusing it to address GHG emission reductions as well as criteria pollutants emission reductions. An important new goal for the ZEV program should be to help assure the transformation to very low carbon-emitting vehicles occurs in the timeframe necessary to meet the Governor’s 2050 target of an 80% reduction in GHGs compared to 1990 levels, ARB staff proposed.

The basic goal of the revised ZEV program should be to help demonstration-stage, low-GHG emitting technologies to commercialization, include fuel cell vehicles (FCVs); battery-electric vehicles (BEVs); and Enhanced AT PZEVs, which currently include plug-in HEVs (PHEV) and hydrogen internal combustion engine (HICE) vehicles, according to ARB staff.

Dr. Anderman, who recently visited the technology groups of nearly all the major automakers and foremost advanced battery developers in the six countries with the largest automotive industries as part of a multi-client study, concluded that “the report is an excellent document that provides a realistic assessment of a very complex subject.” Anderman made several recommendations at the end of his review, including:
  • ARB should increase the requirements for new-vehicle fuel efficiency by about 4% per year, starting at the earliest feasible date and continuing indefinitely.
  • ARB should initiate a drive to increase gasoline taxes nationally, in collaboration with interested political and environmental lobbying groups.
  • ARB should enact policies to accelerate the “greening” of California’s electrical transmission grids.
  • ARB should provide some incentives for the early introduction of EVs and FC vehicles provided they are matched with measurable progress in drastically reducing the carbon footprint of the energy source (electricity or hydrogen).

Dr. Greene also found that ARB staff had “correctly identified significant changes in policy objectives, technologies, and the marketplace that call for a reconsideration of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program in order to, 1) make reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from light duty vehicles a central focus and, 2) simplify the regulatory framework.”

Noting that the ARB documents correctly recognize that both vehicle and infrastructure must be addressed and that several policies will be needed, Greene pointed out the need for an overall policy framework that addresses how the full cost of a transition to ZEVs will be paid and how the evolution of the vehicle stock and energy infrastructure will be coordinated. This is not surprising, he wrote, given that such a framework has yet to be developed, and that the analysis of such large scale energy transitions is still a new field.

Two important energy issues are largely ignored in these reports: 1) energy security and oil dependence and, 2) sustainable energy for transportation. These should not be part of the central focus of this effort, of course, yet they represent important co-benefits of ZEVs that should always be mentioned.

Written by David Greene