Learn about the new regulation passed by California’s Air Resources Board and the benefits and challenges associated with it.

By: Dan Khasis, CEO of Route4Me

California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has passed a new regulation which states that all commercial trucks and vehicles sold in the state must be zero-emission in 2045. This is an attempt to move the industry away from the harmful diesel engines that currently power most of the state’s trucks.

Milestones have been set leading up to 2045. So, from 2024, all truck manufacturers have to start selling zero-emission trucks. By 2035, half of the trucks sold in the state must be zero-emission. By 2040, all last-mile delivery trucks and vans must be switched over to electric vehicles.

California’s Zero Emission Mandate – What Lies Ahead?

Is It Feasible?

Many speculate that the mandate is too ambitious a timeline and cannot be adhered to, especially since global auto sales have been suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, oil companies and the farming industry (and other industries) have opposed the new regulation, calling it unrealistic, expensive, and an example of regulatory overreach.

CARB held firm against all opposition and unanimously passed the new regulation. According to a report by the New York Times, the board said that this is exactly the right time for this rule. It is true that the economy is in rough shape right now and that there aren’t a lot of new vehicle sales of any kind. But, it is important that when people are able to buy vehicles again, they should be investing in the cleanest kinds of vehicles.

Major trucking companies like Daimler and Volvo are already developing electric heavy trucks of their own. American car manufacturers are also gearing up for this change, with Tesla announcing plans to produce electric pick-ups and electric semi-trucks.

The Problems Moving Forward

There are some serious problems that need to be addressed. We look at these below.

A Lack of Charging Stations

There aren’t enough electric charging stations at present. Moving towards the goal of having 100% zero-emission trucks will require a massive infrastructure investment in charging stations. DC fast charging infrastructure up to 1 MW for larger trucks is needed. Such fast charging is not cheap; it can cost up to $100,000 per vehicle. It will also require significant changes to fleet depots for them to be able to supply the necessary power for all the trucks at each site.

The support provided by California for building the infrastructure for charging systems is going to be key in making sure that the zero-emission rule is achievable.

The Cost of Electric Trucks

Electric trucks are currently more expensive than their diesel counterparts. Zero-emission large pick-up trucks and delivery vans may cost $20,000 more than their diesel counterparts and big rigs can cost up to $70,000 more. So, manufacturers of diesel engines warn that there is no guarantee that people will buy electric trucks.

To address the industry’s concerns about demand for electric trucks, CARB will require fleet operators to report their truck use. This could lay the groundwork for a future rule that would require fleets to buy zero-emission trucks.

The Benefits of the New Regulation

There are a couple of benefits of the clean truck regulation. These are discussed below.

Will Open up Economic Opportunities

The clean truck regulation will generate several billion dollars in savings, mainly through reduced fuel expenditures. Electric vehicles are more efficient than internal combustion engines and less expensive to drive per mile.

Also, 7,500 new jobs will be created if automotive manufacturers transform from diesel to electric trucks.

Under the standards approved by CARB, an estimated 100,000 electric trucks will be on California roads by 2030 and 300,000 by 2035. One of the benefits of the new regulation will be that the market for electric trucks will also increase.

Will Reduce Pollution

Transportation is the number one source of smog and greenhouse gas pollution in California. While heavy-duty trucks only make up a fraction of the vehicles, they are responsible for 25% of diesel pollution, which causes cancer and is estimated to contribute to more than 1,400 early heart disease deaths in California each year.

The new regulation represents a victory for Latino and Asian-American communities, especially as they have long suffered from truck emissions.

How to Move Forward?

Some classes and configurations of trucks and truck routes will be easier to make electric than others. So, short-haul and regional routes should be changed to electric first. These are the areas where the current battery electric vehicle (BEV) technologies work best.

Long-haul trucking will be more difficult and may be suited to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (HFCEV) designs. Fuel cells will be better able to meet the longer-range demands of long-haul duty cycles and continuous operation applications of team driving and multiple utilization of trucks. Hydrogen is also much better equipped to match the relatively fast fueling times required by these operations.

It is important not to resist change. Technology is here to make our lives smoother. Many field service businesses, for example, are already using a map route planner to get the most optimized and fuel-efficient routes. This helps drivers avoid traffic congestion and cut down on delivery delays.

So, what’s your opinion about this new mandate?

California’s Zero Emission Mandate – What Lies Ahead?

Dan Khasis, CEO of Route4Me