There is a lot of confusion swirling around the interwebs the past couple days regarding the CARB classification on the BMW i3 with range extender. For Californians this is a very important topic because it will determine whether the REx i3 gets the $2,500 or $1,500 California rebate and more importantly, will it qualify for the white or green carpool lane sticker.
I was just beginning to write a post on this; what we currently know (the situation seems to be changing hourly) and what may come of this as it is an evolving event, when I noticed my good friend and fellow Electronaut, George Betek wrote a post on this for InsideEVs.com. It was really comprehensive and probably better than what I could do, so instead of me writing another post, I just got permission to post it here. Just so you know, this issue doesn't effect the all electric BEV i3. That will still get the maximum rebate and qualify for the white carpool sticker. It's the range extender that is causing the debate. I still believe when the dust settles the i3 REx will only get the $1,500 rebate (This was disputed by BMW - as you'll see they maintain it will get the full $2,500 rebate) and the green carpool sticker which will likely run out in about a year. Therefore if you live in California and are thinking about getting an i3 with the range extender, then order one as soon as they go on sale so you are assured of getting the coveted carpool access. The rest of the country can sit back and watch the drama unfold, as this will likely have little to no bearing on most people outside of California.
From InsideEVs:Green or white? Which HOV sticker will the BMW i3 get in California?
As trivial as this question might sound, it might have serious consequences for future buyers of the i3. Wait, what I am talking about? As you might have heard already, the range-extended version of the BMW i3, which is slated to arrive in the US sometime in April, is apparently at risk of not qualifying for all the incentives in California, which is the largest market for plug-in vehicles as of this writing.
*Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on George’s blog. We suggest that you check it out by clicking here.
What incentives are those exactly? Well, for one thing, there are the carpool lane stickers, which permit single-occupant vehicles to use HOV lanes. Some people have said that it was “tantamount to having a helicopter for commuters”. OK, not quite, but it’s still an incredible perk. Then there is the clean vehicle rebate, which allows owners and lessees to apply for a rebate check, if they have either purchased or leased the new vehicle, and commit to keeping it at least 36 months.
That all looks pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you agree? I guarantee you that it won’t be when we delve into the specifics. The devil is in the details. Literally. Take the carpool lane stickers. They come in several varieties in California:
It’s worth noting that the HOV decal program is administered by the California DMV following guidelines set forth by the Air Resources Board, which maintains a comprehensive list of all eligible vehicles. This list does not mention or include the BMW i3 yet. That’s understandable, since the first i3 is not supposed to be sold in California until May 2014. While it would seem only natural that the pure electric version will qualify for the white stickers, some thought that the range-extended version would get them too.
What is the big deal then, aren’t the stickers interchangeable? At first blush, it would appear so. The green stickers, which the BMW i3 REx trim might end up getting, are limited in number. If BMW and the Air Resources Board cannot come to an agreement on this issue, it could start affecting i3 buyers as soon as late 2014 or early 2015. However, this problem would not be unique to the range-extended variant of the i3; it would affect other vehicles, such as Chevy Volt, Plug In Prius or Ford Fusion Energi, as well.
Additionally, although both sticker types are slated to expire on January 1, 2019, some believe that the white decals had a better shot at getting an extension. All that said, this should be a non-issue for current BMW i3 buyers, so long as the i3 will qualify for some kind of HOV decal. Green or white. It doesn’t really matter. Although some might prefer one over the other, the practical difference is likely zero as of this writing. Should the green stickers run out in about a year, and an additional allocation is not approved, then early i3s with REx could have a better resale value. Much like a Prius with the yellow sticker would command a premium in the years past.
That leaves us with the clean vehicle rebate project. This project is a voluntary incentive program introduced in by Assembly Bill 118 in 2007. The program is administered by the Air Resources Board (CARB) to fund clean vehicle and equipment projects. It is managed by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in San Diego, and has expanded its funding considerably over the past few years to keep up with the increased volume of new clean-fuel vehicle registrations.
There are two types of cars, which qualify under the program: zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Light-duty zero emission cars and trucks are eligible for up to a $2,500 incentive, while motorcycles and neighborhood vehicles are eligible for up to $900.
PHEVs are eligible for up to a $1,500 incentive. To qualify, PHEVs must:
- Meet California’s most stringent tailpipe emission standard
- Have zero evaporative emissions
- Have a 15 year / 150K mile warranty on the emissions system and
- Have a 10 year / 150K warranty on the zero emission energy storage system.
2012 amendments to zero vehicle program regulations, it comes down to four criteria:
- The APU range is equal to or less than the all-electric range
- Engine operation cannot occur until the battery charge has been depleted to the charge-sustaining lower limit
- A minimum
8075 miles electric range
- Super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) and zero evaporative emissions compliant and TZEV warranty requirements on the battery system.
“The minimum range qualification has been corrected from 80 miles range to 75 miles range for range extended battery electric vehicles (BEVx) to match the minimum requirements for BEVxs in 2012 through 2017.”This means that the new BMW i3 with range extender should qualify for the $2,500 incentive, just like a pure battery electric vehicle would. It does not automatically imply that the i3 REx will qualify for the white HOV stickers, although it would seem logical that it should. It’s also worth noting that the HOV decal and the CVRP are two separate programs, even though the CARB establishes guidelines for both.
I have recently contacted the California Center for Sustainable Energy and the Air Resources Board, and I’m led to believe that the i3 with REx will qualify for $2,500 CVRP and green HOV decals. This belief aligns with BMW’s statement (courtesy of BMW Blog) on the matter:
“The i3 with Range Extender qualifies for the green sticker, which is limited in numbers and will run out in the eventual future (possibly late in 2014). This is technically to be expected since the car is equipped with an internal combustion engine which potentially emits fuel fumes, and thus makes it harder to qualify for the white sticker which typically can be obtained by full battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and Hydrogen vehicles. The white sticker is not limited in terms of numbers. There is a continued, constructive relationship between BMW and CARB executives, and there has been no reversal of position. It also bears mention that the i3 with Range Extender qualifies for the full CA incentive amount of $2,500.”There is apparently still a chance that the i3 REx might get white stickers as well.
Finally, there has been some talk that the range-extended i3 might not qualify for the BEVx classification in its first year, but perhaps it would be best to table this type of speculation for a future post.