Clean Diesel Vehicles to Meet California’s New Stringent Clean Car Standards Adopted By Air Resources Board This Week

March 26, 2012
The new Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV III) regulations officially adopted by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Thursday will establish the world’s most stringent tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions standards for new passenger vehicles.

The new Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV III) regulations officially adopted by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Thursday will establish the world’s most stringent tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions standards for new passenger vehicles.

These new standards can be achieved with the help of new clean diesel engines, which are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than comparable gasoline engines, and new ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD), which has reduced sulfur emissions by 97 percent, according to Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

“This action by the California Air Resources Board officially finalizing the third-generation Low Emission Vehicle (LEV III) rules sets forward an aggressive plan to usher in a new generation of highly fuel-efficient, less petroleum-dependent cars and light trucks in California,” Schaeffer said.

“We can now say with confidence that clean diesel cars will be part of the LEV III plan, thanks to the incredible progress and innovation in diesel engines and new advancements in emissions control technology. With the adoption of this rule, the Air Resources Board recognizes the inherent energy efficiency and lower GHG emissions benefits of the new generation of clean diesel technology.”

California’s New Regulations Are the Strictest in the World

With LEV III, California’s new light-duty vehicle tailpipe emission regulations are to be phased in during model years 2017-2025. In that time, all vehicles sold in California will have to meet Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) tailpipe standards.

“The ARB played a significant role in driving the tremendous transformation to very low emissions that defines the diesel automobile of today,” Schaeffer said. “These new clean diesels will now help in meeting California’s near-term and long-term environmental, energy and climate goals.

“The fact that diesel technology is both proven and widely available today is also critical to making early progress toward California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. Some of the other more exotic fuels and vehicle technologies, while promising, remain in the very earliest stage of development or at minimal market penetration levels. 

High Gas Prices and Stricter Emissions Standards Are Increasing Diesel Car Sales In U.S.

“Just as Californians are experiencing some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation, with an average of $4.23 a gallon this week according to the Energy Information Administration, the interest in diesel cars is at its highest level ever,” Schaeffer said.  “Last year, clean diesel car sales in the U.S. increased 27 percent and sales in 2012 are up more than 32 percent this year. The high fuel prices and stricter emissions regulations are playing a key role in the increases sales of clean diesel autos.”

Schaeffer cited several recent North American examples of the environmental advances in clean diesel technology and lower emissions:

- At the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the all new 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI clean diesel was voted the winner of the 2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year of the Most Earth Friendly Vehicle;

- The 2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel was named Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year;

- In 2010 Audi Q & TDI Clean Diesel was voted the 2010 Earth, Wind and Power Truck of the Year and the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel was voted the 2009 Earth, Wind and Power Car of the Year;

-Two of the last four Green Car of the Year Awards have gone to clean diesel cars (2010 - Audi A3 TDI Clean Diesel; 2009 - Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel.

Several New Clean Diesel Autos to Be Introduced To U.S. Market

  • Chrysler announced that it will be introducing a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel in 2013 or 2014, and possibly other Jeep diesels later;
  • General Motors announced that a diesel version of the Cadillac ATS would available in the United States in the near future;
  • Audi announced that it would be selling an Audi A8 TDI diesel in the United States in 2013;
  • It was also announced that a diesel powered Porsche Cayenne would be coming to the United States in 2012.
  • A diesel version of the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze will begin sales in the United States in 2013;
  • Mazda will become the first Asian car manufacturer to sell diesel cars in the United States when it introduces its SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine here;
  • The S350 BlueTEC marks the return of the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz S-Class to the United States in 2012 after a 17-year absence;
  • The Volkswagen Passat, which was recently named the Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year, began production of the Passat diesel in its new Chattanooga, Tenn. plant in the summer of 2011.

“While most auto makers have clean diesel autos on the market in Europe, Asia and Australia, there are growing indications that even more diesels are on their way to the U.S. market,” Schaeffer said.