GirlHacker's Random Log

almost daily since 1999


I’ve mentioned here previously that my vehicle wish was for a Subaru hybrid. Their outdoors-y fans make the hybrid market a natural. But the company is, like many of its car owners, also very practical. They decided they were better off investing in a diesel engine for the near-term. So, with my loved ones constantly (and I believe irrationally) pleading for me to replace my 1997 Legacy wagon before I got stranded somewhere (mere minutes away from help!), I decided to go ahead and buy a new Subaru without getting hung up on gas savings. It turns out that I did a little better than I intended. The only car the dealer had in the model and color I wanted was a PZEV. That stands for “partial zero emissions vehicle” (yes, that’s a laughable name). It’s a modification of the term “zero emissions vehicle,” which is what the car manufacturers were supposed to be selling (at 2% by 1998) to comply with California’s ZEV program. But, as politics always goes, the manufacturers won a compromise which allows them to sell hybrids or PZEVs and earn credit points to bank against their ZEV obligations. PZEVs need to meet the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicles standard (greatly reduced tailpipe emissions, vapor tight fuel tank). There are several on the market from various automakers, but PZEVs aren’t hyped or advertised much. I’m perfectly happy with my car’s performance; Subaru claims to have “the most powerful PZEV engine available in the U.S. market today.” They also like to point out that the tailpipe air may be cleaner than the smog-filled surroundings it is entering. I’m glad I stumbled across my PZEV, even if it isn’t as noble as better MPG and was the result of a bureaucratic deal. (my car on flickr, more on PZEVs from the NY Times)

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