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The Dirty Secret of Cleaner Cars

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece on PZEV’s, or Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles. PZEV’s are poorly marketed versions of the most popular cars on the road. The difference? They have better pollution-control systems than their identical counterparts—so much better that PZEV’s are 70 percent cleaner than vehicles that already meet “low emissions” standards. Sounds a little strange? Well, I’ll say it again—Ford, Honda, Volvo, Chevrolet, Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagon, Nissan, and Toyota currently produce a small number of each of their best-selling models to be as clean as many hybrids and to give off fewer pollutants while driving than their identical counterparts do while parked.

Automakers have yet to put PZEV technology into their entire fleets because they are only mandated to substitute these secretly cleaner models for a small fraction of their vehicles in California and ten other states. The cleaner technology of a PZEV costs an automaker only $200 to $500 extra to produce. At such a small marginal increase, why don’t manufacturers advertise these vehicles with the same vehemence that they push their mountain-topping SUV’s? According to Honda, because they don’t want demand for cleaner vehicles to “bleed over” into states where emissions aren’t so strictly regulated.

And in case your still standing, try to absorb this--PZEV’s carry a 15 year / 150,000 mile warranty.

Other Useful Links:
DRIVE.CLEAN.CA.GOV

Environmental Working Group report on link between asthma and auto emissions.