Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program

This page last reviewed December 7, 2016

In order to meet California's health based air quality standards and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, the cars we drive and the fuel we use must be transformed away from petroleum.

The ZEV Program is part of the Calfornia Air Resources Board's Advanced Clean Cars package of coordinated standards that controls smog causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions of passenger vehicles in California.

Current ZEV Regulation

current zev reg Current ZEV Regulation

current zev reg ZEV Credit Balances

current zev reg Tutorial of 2018+ ZEV Requirements

current zev reg ZEV Calculator for Auto Manufacturers (placeholder)


ZEV Program Activities

current zev reg Advanced Clean Cars

current zev reg California's Hydrogen Initiatives

current zev reg California's ZEV Planning Collaboration

current zev reg ZEV Infrastructure


Certification & Test Procedures

current zev reg Evaporative Emissions/ORVR

current zev reg Exhaust Test Procedures

current zev reg On-Road Certification


Related ARB Programs

current zev reg Low Emission Vehicle III (LEV III)

current zev reg Air Quality Improvement (AQIP)

current zev reg Climate Change Program (AB32)


visual iconWhat's New?

new The ZEV Calculator is now available for auto manufacturers to explore compliance scenarios (placeholder)

California's 2016 ZEV Action Plan has been released by the Governor's Office

visual iconConsumer Resources


PEV resource center




Background and Program Information



In 1990, the California Air Resources Board (ARB or the Board) adopted an ambitious program to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of light-duty vehicles through the gradual introduction of zero emission vehicles (ZEV) into the California fleet as part of the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV I) regulation. Since its inception, the ZEV Regulation, which affects manufacturers of passenger cars and light-duty trucks, has been adjusted eight times to reflect the pace of ZEV development, the emergence of new ZEV technologies, and the need to provide clarifying language. Throughout these adjustments the fundamental goal of the program, the commercialization of ZEV technologies, has not changed.

California’s commitment to the ZEV program reflects the recognition that ZEV technology is indispensable to achieving the State’s public health protection goals, including criteria pollutant and long-term climate change emission reductions. California is the nation’s largest market for cars and light-duty trucks with approximately 25 million registered vehicles. Each day those vehicles drive approximately 800 million miles and consume more than 29 million gallons of gasoline. They are also responsible for 26 percent of statewide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).


What is the ZEV Program?

The ZEV Program is comprised of both regulatory and non-regulatory efforts that are designed to promote commercialization of zero and near-zero emission vehicles in order to facilitate California’s transition to a predominantly zero emission light-duty fleet. The ZEV Regulation sets production requirements for clean vehicle technology based on manufacturers’ California sales volumes. A manufacturer’s production requirement is based on a percentage of annual total passenger car and light-duty truck sales in California. Manufacturers meet their requirement through the introduction and sale of ZEVs - battery electric (BEV) and fuel cell electric (FCEV) vehicles - to California drivers. Manufacturers may meet a portion of their requirement with transitional-ZEVs (TZEV), otherwise known as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Within the basic regulatory structure, manufacturers are given compliance flexibility, including the ability to trade credits in order to meet a compliance shortfall. As of January 2016, approximately 192,000 new ZEVs and TZEVs have been sold in California. This represents approximately 13% of the overall goal of 1.5 million vehicles on California roads by 2025.

Non-Regulatory efforts, which include incentives, state fleet and fuel purchasing requirements, communication and education activities, and coordination with state and international partners, are aimed at supporting market adoption. ZEV Program staff performs station technology and network evaluations to guide investments for State co-funding of new hydrogen fueling stations for ARB’s Hydrogen Infrastructure support. In addition, staff conducts technology assessments to determine vehicle eligibility for ARB’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) and single-occupant HOV lane access.

The ZEV Program's public health driver is to reduce criteria pollutants, toxics, and GHG emissions from new light- and medium-duty vehicles to help meet health-based State and Federal air quality standards and GHG goals, and to reduce gasoline and diesel fuel consumption from on-road light-duty vehicles. The ZEV Regulation does not set specific emission reduction targets; it works in conjunction with other regulatory programs in order to achieve the State’s goals of reducing GHG emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In addition, the ZEV Regulation will help the State meet the Governor's goal of reaching 1.5 million ZEVs on California’s roads by 2025, which is vital to its emission reduction targets.