Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in North Carolina

North Carolina enlists a few vehicle-related laws when it comes to environmental protection and improving air quality. These include emissions test requirements (and exemptions for electric cars), EV registration fees, auto insurance requirements, and more. For full details on NC's green vehicle laws, read on.

North Carolina Emissions Testing Requirements

North Carolina requires most cars to undergo the annual Vehicle Safety & Emissions Inspection to maintain valid NC vehicle registration. This includes a vehicle safety inspection and an on-board diagnostic (OBD) emissions test. However, the NC Division of Motor Vehicles exempts fully electric vehicles (EVs) from the latter.

Electric cars are the only alternative fuel vehicles exempt from emissions testing. The determining factor is whether a vehicle is capable of running on gasoline. For example, hybrid cars are not exempt from the OBD emissions test because they can be fueled by gasoline. Get the full scoop on emissions test exemptions and other green driver incentives on our page covering money-saving perks.

If your vehicle requires an emissions test and you need to find a nearby inspection station, scroll down to our locator widget at the bottom of this page. For more on inspection requirements and a full list of exemptions, consult our page on safety inspections and emissions checks or call (877) 421-0020.

Additional Fees for Plug-In Electric Vehicles

North Carolina charges plug-in electric vehicle owners an additional $100 fee during first-time NC vehicle registration and registration renewal. The only exceptions include low-speed electric vehicles and those that rely on a nonelectric power source. For more on registration fees, including the surcharge for plug-in EVs, refer to North Carolina General Statutes 20-87.

What is a Plug-In Electric Vehicle

North Carolina define a plug-in EV as a four-wheel motor vehicle that:

  • Is primarily made to be driven on public roads, and complies with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards covered in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Section 571).
  • Has not had its power train (or powering mechanism) modified from the original manufacturer specifications.
  • Bears a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or fewer.
  • Can travel at a maximum speed of at least 65 miles per hour (mph).
  • Gets electricity from a battery that holds four or more kilowatt hours of energy and can be recharged from an external electricity source.

For the exact definition, consult NC General Statutes 20-4.01.

North Carolina Auto Insurance Requirements

North Carolina's minimum insurance requirements are no different for alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric cars and hybrids. However, going green might land you an eco-friendly driver discount that ranges from 10-30% off regular car insurance rates. See our page on Earth-conscious driver incentives for info on fuel-efficient auto insurance discounts and other ways to save time and money.

Keep Up with Current North Carolina Green Vehicle Laws

These green vehicle laws, not to mention eco-friendly driver incentives, are subject to change. Keep up with the latest by referring back to this page periodically also consulting your local North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Find a Nearby North Carolina Emissions Testing Station

Locate the closest NC smog and emissions testing station with the widget below:

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