California Agency Unveils a Streamlined Certification Process
The California Air Resources Board has set forth an updated proposal to modify its alternative fuel conversion certification requirements for new and in-use vehicles.
Under the latest proposal, states a California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition summary, retrofit system manufacturers that sell fewer than 4,500 alternative fuel systems per year in California would qualify for a streamlined application and certification process.
CARB is also proposing reduced testing requirements, especially for on-board diagnostics, and closer alignment with EPA testing requirements, including for fuel.
Good, But Could Be Better
“There’s much to like in this proposal – it’s clear that CARB is being responsive to public comments about how to make alternative fuel conversions more feasible for small-volume manufacturers,” CalNGVC president Tim Carmichael says in his organization’s latest bulletin.
“What concerns us is that CARB proposes to allow this streamlined process only for vehicles being converted to the same emissions standard the gasoline vehicle meets. That’s a problem because most natural gas conversions are done to meet a more stringent standard, to make the vehicles eligible for solo-driver HOV lane access and some incentive funding.
“Under CARB’s proposal,” Carmichael says, “companies that want to convert to a more stringent standard would have to continue to use the existing, much more burdensome process.”
Among the good news in CARB’s proposal,
- only four on-board diagnostics demonstrations would be required (fuel system, rich/lean, oxygen sensor, and catalyst), and manufacturers could test using less expensive rapid-aged parts or an in-use vehicle with over 25,000 miles;
- certification fuel standards for natural gas would match federal standards, which allow the use of commercially available fuel, provided the applicant gets a fuel specification report from the seller. This would reduce certification costs significantly by eliminating the need for specialized testing fuels;
- exhaust testing would allow the option to use a non-methane hydrocarbon X1.5 multiplier for natural gas to determine amounts of non-methane organic compounds;
- companies could use EPA deterioration factors for vehicles with up to 25,000 miles on them, and pro-rated deterioration factors for vehicles that have been driven longer; and
- for vehicles previously certified in California, certification would apply to both a kit and an installation, providing a path for converting new or relatively new vehicles at the point of sale.
CARB staff requests comments on the proposal by mid-May, Cal NGVC says, plans to issue a Statement of Reasons by August 7, and will take the proposal to the agency board in September.
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Alternative Fuels Advocates, Peter Ward, 916-261-3779; [email protected]
CARB, Dean Bloudoff, 916-322-8987; [email protected]
Source: California NGVC with Fleets & Fuels follow-up