What is ULEV?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Fuel Efficiency, Technology on Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 at 4:01 pm
The word ULEV is scrawled above iconography that brings associations of the ways in which cars impact the environment via emissions

Meaning and Value of ULEV Acronym

If you’ve been shopping for or just checking out new vehicles, you may have come across the abbreviation “ULEV.” Volkswagen models, in particular, sometimes have this abbreviation thrown on the end of their model name. What is ULEV? What does it stand for?


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ULEV stands for, “Ultra-low-emission Vehicle.” It’s an EV designation that means the vehicle in question puts out 50% less emissions than the overall annual average emissions amount set by the California Air Resources Board. Emission averages change over the years, so EV designations can change with them as well as time goes on. But of course, as the historical Buddha said, “Everything changes.”

2020 Volkswagen Jetta parked before a body of water
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is one VW offering to feature an ULEV option.

Where did ULEV come from?

The scale that includes the ULEV abbreviation was created by the California Air Resources Board. It’s not official everywhere, but is used by much of the United States. Volkswagen has adopted the scale for all U.S. offerings.

What are the benefits of an ULEV rating?

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits and corresponding lightening of one’s conscience, the designation received on this scale can impact how much the vehicle in question is taxed. Low or ultra-low emission vehicles may be given tax or other advantages. High-emission vehicles may suffer restrictions or additional taxation.

California Air Resources Board Vehicular Emissions Acronyms

Other emissions-designating acronyms on the California Air Resources Board scale include:

  • LEV: Low-emission vehicle. LEVs meet the minimum emission standards for new cars sold in California
  • SULEV: Super-ultra-low-emission vehicle. SULEVs emit 90% less than other vehicles.
  • PZEV: Partial-zero-emission vehicle. PZEV is the same as SULEV, but it has no evaporative emissions.
  • AT-PZEV: Advanced tech PZEV. This is the same as PZEV, but it meets some ZEV conditions. One example would be hybrids.
  • ZEV: Zero-emissions vehicle. This type of vehicle has no tailpipe emissions at all. Examples would be electric and hydrogen vehicles.

Volkswagen and ULEV

Volkswagen has integrated the monikers above so that certain vehicles can be had in their formats. For example, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta ULEV is an option for those desiring an ultra-low-emissions version of the delightful sedan.

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