Flickr photo courtesy of juancnuno.
I’ve been reading up on PZEV vehicles, ever since I saw a local advertisement for one here in Dallas.
What I didn’t realize until now is that you can’t buy PZEV cars in most states!
From the Green Car Advisor at Edmunds.com:
Vehicles with PZEV equipment are specially certified under California rules, which only six states now use. The total will jump to eleven in the next few years as Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maryland join the green team.
The EPA doesn’t have a PZEV classification. And itÂ won’t simply recognize the California certification and let the cars be sold wherever thereâ€™s a market for them.
Nope, the Feds insist that if a carmaker wants to sell a vehicle all decked out in PZEV accoutrements, it must re-certify it under federal standards. Thatâ€™s despite the fact, well worth repeating, that by attaining the California PZEV rating, a manufacturer already has demonstrated that the car is cleaner than anything required by EPA standards.
The Feds do provide one break, though.Â Recognizing that a lot of people who live in one state might cross the border to buy in another, the EPA allows car dealers in states that share boundary lines with the â€œCalifornia Ruleâ€ states to sell PZEVs if the manufacturers will provide them. That brings to 15 the number of states in which PZEVs can be sold.
It also casts a shadow over the EPAâ€™s insistence that it has to certify the cars itself.
â€œWe try to be practical,â€ said EPA spokesman John Millett.
So, if you live in Nevada, Arizona or Idaho, for instance, your local Ford dealer can sell you a PZEV-rated Ford Focus, if he has one in stock or can get one from a California dealer.
Volvo spokesman Geno Effler said his company, which markets two PZEV models, even honors the 10-year emissions warranty in the nine states that share borders with the official PZEV states.
But if a dealership inÂ Kansas, gets its hands on a PZEV, heaven forfend!
Thereâ€™s that fine of up to $27,000 for selling a California-certified PZEV car in any state that doesn’t use the California rules or doesn’t share borders with those that do.
But that didn’t explain why Subaru is selling one in Texas, until I found this article from the Dallas Morning News.
So why aren’t PZEVs in every showroom? The main reason, as you might guess, is cost. Although Subaru charges $200 for the option, some estimate that it costs as much as $1,500. If Subaru passed on the entire expense, it could hinder sales and slow the automaker’s compliance with ultra-low-emission laws.
Most PZEV builders don’t even offer them outside the hot-air â€“ er, clean-air â€“ states because they don’t want to multiply their losses. Subaru says it’s one of the few manufacturers that make PZEVs available everywhere.
Still, PZEV is one-tenth as expensive as hybrid hardware and technology. And if the cost were spread among a larger number of vehicles, it would probably drop further.
“That’s why test markets like Texas are important to us to see how much demand there is for PZEVs,” said Subaru spokeswoman Lisa Fleming.
So why are they only available in certain states? A columnist from MSN Autos spells it out.
Not only can’t you buy one, but the government says it’s currently illegal for automakers to sell these green cars outside of the special states. Under terms of the Clean Air Actâ€”in the kind of delicious irony only our government can pull offâ€”anyone (dealer, consumer, automaker) involved in an out-of-bounds PZEV sale could be subject to civil fines of up to $27,500. Volvo sent its dealers a memo alerting them to this fact, noting that its greenest S40 and V50 models were only for the special states.
So, just how green is a PZEV machine? Well, if you just cut your lawn with a gas mower, congratulations, you just put out more pollution in one hour than these cars do in 2,000 miles of driving. Grill a single juicy burger, and you’ve cooked up the same hydrocarbon emissions as a three-hour drive in a Ford Focus PZEV. As the California Air Resources Board has noted, the tailpipe emissions of these cars can be cleaner than the outside air in smoggy cities.
That’s amazing stuff. But what’s more amazing is how few people have a clue that the gas-powered, internal combustion engine could ever be this clean.
Naturally, no company wants to bring too much attention to a car that most people can’t buy, unless it’s Ferrari. And there’s the catch. PZEV models are already available from Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, Subaru, Volvo and VW. They’re scrubbed-up versions of familiar models, from the VW Jettato the Subaru Outback. But chances are, you’ve never heard of them.
So now I’m looking to see if there is a list of PZEV vehicles that are nationally available. Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a nationally available PZEV car, and which makes and models they might be?