Honda’s Plug-In Accord Hits Low Emission Milestone for California

Honda is an engineering-led company, which is why it takes pride in accomplishments that might leave other companies scratching their heads at the effort expended. Take for example, its new 2014 Plug-in Hybrid Accord, which Clean Fleet Report recently tested. It became the first vehicle certified to California’s new emissions level–SULEV20.

Honda,Accord,plug-in hybrid, SULEV20

Honda Accord PHEV

Why should you care? SULEV20 is a new measurement level of smog-forming pollutants that indicates the Plug-in Accord will produce only 20 grams of emissions per mile, standards that all cars will need to meet by 2025. For comparison, the current standard allows cars to emit up to eight times that amount–and those cars are still quite clean. The 20 gram level is getting to the lower levels of accurate measure of existing test equipment, and is a level lower than the ambient air in many of the state’s more polluted areas. For the meaning of this acronym and others in the article, check out the end of the article.

Honda’s History of Low-Emission Firsts

For Honda, it’s become something of a tradition to be the first car certified at lower emissions standards as they are promulgated, to the point where the company is the one the state Air Resources Board often points to when other auto companies protest about the stringency of new regulations. For the record–here’s the list of Honda “firsts” with the model, year and, for comparison with the new SULEV20, the emissions level at which they were certified:

First LEV               1996 Civic             160 g/mi

First ULEV            1998 Accord        125 g/mi

First SULEV         2000 Accord        30 g/mi

First AT PZEV      2001 Civic GX (natural gas)  30 g/mi

First AT PZEV hybrid  2003 Civic Hybrid  30 g/mi

Deciphering the Alphabet Soup of Emissions Regulations

LEV=Low emission vehicle

ULEV=Ultra low emission vehicle

SULEV=Super ultra low emission vehicle

AT PZEV=Advanced technology, partial zero emission vehicle (a SULEV vehicle with zero evaporative emissions and advanced technology such as a hybrid powertrain or alternative fuel system

SULEV20=Super ultra low emission vehicle emitting only 20 grams of NMOG and NOx per mile

NMOG=Non-methane organic gases (Compounds containing carbon which, when combined with NOx in the presence of sunlight, form smog.)

NOx=Oxides of nitrogen (When combined with hydrocarbons and sunlight, NOx compounds form smog.)

Published Jan. 5, 2013

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About Author: Michael Coates

is editor and publisher at Clean Fleet Report and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of The Enthusiast Network), Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the Board of the Western Automotive Journalists.

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