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Jeep Wrangler, GEM exempt from new California rules

by David Zatz on

The California Air Resources Board announced that vehicles with soft plastic windows, such as those in the Jeep Wrangler, will be exempt from new regulations that require thermal-control windows. The regulations, to be phased in starting in model year 2012, are designed to reduce vehicle emissions by cutting the load on air conditioners.

Due to inversion layers which keep pollution close to its source in large parts of the state, California has had much stricter pollution rules than the Federal government in order to comply with clean-air regulations and reduce pollution-related illness.

Lower Forty

The California Air Resources Board said that the “Cool Cars” regulation would only apply to “rigid windows” and not the “flexible glazing” on vehicles such as the Wrangler (which was mentioned by name.) Avoiding a loophole, they also noted that rigid plastic windows would need to comply with the standards, which are to be finalized by the end of October 2009.

GEM electric vehicles also have soft plastic windows; they do not have air conditioning.

The rules are expected to require windows that block 45% of the sun’s thermal energy (60% by 2016) on new vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds. The windows may interfere with handheld cell phone and navigation systems, which drivers are discouraged from using (but which passengers may use). The board said that they would not interfere with electronic toll systems such as EZPass, based on tests, and that garage door openers would still work if used through a “deletion window.”

Toyota said the regulation would be expensive for them, since their GPS antennas are mounted inside the vehicle, and would need to be moved to the roof.

Depending on the price of fuel, the cost of the regulation would take 5-12 years to recoup in gas mileage, according to the state.

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