July 04, 2020

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California to transition to electric zero-emission trucks by 2024
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Photo courtesy of Daimler Trucks North America

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted a first-in-the-world rule requiring truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024. By 2045, every new truck sold in California will be zero-emission.

This bold and timely move sets a clean-truck standard for the U.S. and the world, and marks the Newsom administration’s most important air pollution regulation to date. It zeroes in on air pollution in the state’s most disadvantaged and polluted communities.

“California is an innovation juggernaut that is going electric. We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California’s secretary for Environmental Protection.

Many California neighborhoods, especially Black and Brown, low-income and vulnerable communities, live, work, play and attend schools adjacent to the ports, railyards, distribution centers, and freight corridors and experience the heaviest truck traffic. This new rule directly addresses disproportionate risks and health and pollution burdens affecting these communities and puts California on the path for an all zero-emission short-haul drayage fleet in ports and rail yards by 2035, and zero-emission “last-mile” delivery trucks and vans by 2040.

“For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities. Now is the time – the technology is here and so is the need for investment.”

Trucks are the largest single source of air pollution from vehicles, responsible for 70% of the smog-causing pollution and 80% of carcinogenic diesel soot even though they number only two million among the 30 million registered vehicles in the state.

This requirement to shift to zero-emission trucks, along with the ongoing shift to electric cars, will help California meet its climate goals and federal air quality standards, especially in the Los Angeles region and the San Joaquin Valley – areas that suffer the highest levels of air pollution in the nation. Statewide, the Advanced Clean Truck regulation will lower related premature deaths by 1,000.

The rule drives technology and investment, phasing in available heavy-duty zero-emission technology starting in 2024 with full transformation over the next two decades. This sends a clear signal to manufacturers, fleet owners and utilities that the time to invest in zero-emission trucks – and the economy – is now. It builds on California’s leadership as a manufacturer of zero-emission transportation.

In the coming months, CARB will also consider two complementary regulations to support its action. The first sets a stringent new limit on NOx (oxides of nitrogen), one of the major precursors of smog. This will require that new trucks that still use fossil fuels include the most effective exhaust control technology during the transition to electric trucks. There is also a proposed requirement for larger fleets in the state to transition to electric trucks year over year.

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