Ever Heard of a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV)?


I thought it was a joke, but it isn’t. Given my recent commentary on inappropriate Presidential word use, I was similarly troubled by the ‘Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle’ logo on the back of my rented Subaru Legacy when I picked it up at Boston’s Logan airport yesterday. I suspected some marketing gimmick concocted by those who should know better.

Happily, a trip to Wikipedia and GreenCar.com laid my anxiety to rest.

What is a PZEV? Per Wikipedia,

A Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle is a vehicle that has zero evaporative emissions from its fuel system, has a 15 year (or at least 150,000 mile) warranty and meets SULEV tailpipe emission standards. .. SULEV means Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV), a conventionally powered or gas-electric hybrid vehicle designed to produce minimal air pollution at their point of use, typically 90% less than that of an equivalent ordinary full gasoline vehicle. … Various techniques are used to reduce pollution in these vehicles. In order to qualify as a PZEV, a vehicle must meet the SULEV standard and, in addition, have zero evaporative emissions from its fuel system plus an extended (15-year/150,000-mile) warranty on its emission-control components, which incidentally covers the propulsion electrical components of a hybrid electric vehicle.

There are about 20 different PZEV models available today– for more on this topic, go to Green Car.com.

This is good news– apparently the engineering enhancement required to roll PZEV’s off the assembly line cost about $1,500 for auto manufacturers , but only $200 of the cost is being passed on to consumers. The Subaru Legacy appears to be pretty popular in this category. Unfortunately, with an MSRP in the mid-$20’s depending on what options you take, the car only delivers 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. At least it, and others in its class, deliver minimal emissions. In comparison, the Prius appears to deliver the full package.

Any comments from readers who are more knowledgeable on this topic?

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