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California meets its target for zero-emissions truck sales two years ahead of schedule

The California Air Resources Board CARB) released a report showing that truck manufacturers are exceeding targeted sales of zero-emissions vehicles and are now two years ahead of schedule.

The annual report tracks how manufacturers are achieving CARB’s regulation that established a phased-in transition toward the sale of 100% zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045. Under the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule approved in 2020, manufacturers that sell more than 500 vehicles in California are required to report their vehicle sales and how many of those vehicles were zero emissions. The sales requirements start in 2024, so the early success of meeting them in 2022 ensures that manufacturers have enough credits to sell internal combustion engine models as needed to meet market demands.

The trucking sector is essential to reaching California’s clean air targets. While trucks represent only 6% of the vehicles on California’s roads, they account for more than 35% of the state’s transportation-generated nitrogen oxide emissions and a quarter of the state’s on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

In April, CARB approved an Advanced Clean Fleets rule (earlier post) that complements its previous sales requirement by requiring that medium- and heavy-duty fleets start a phased-in transition toward the use of zero-emissions options. The rule applies to fleets that are well-suited for electrification, including public fleets, drayage trucks that operate at ports and railyards, and other fleets from companies or entities with $50 million in revenue or with 50 or more trucks.

The Advanced Clean Fleets rule provides an additional coordinated impetus for new zero-emissions sales in the market, bolstering the emerging sales trends. Due to the impact that truck traffic has on residents living near heavily traveled corridors, drayage trucks will need to be zero-emissions by 2035. All other fleet owners will have the option to transition a percentage of their vehicles to meet expected zero-emissions milestones, which gives owners the flexibility to continue operating combustion-powered vehicles as needed during the move toward cleaner technology.

To ensure that the needed technology will be available to meet upcoming milestones, CARB and leading truck and engine companies recently signed the Clean Truck Partnership (earlier post), which commits participating manufacturers to meeting California’s vehicle standards, regardless of whether any other entity challenges California’s authority to set more stringent emissions standards under the federal Clean Air Act. In turn, CARB has agreed to work collaboratively with manufacturers to meet CARB’s requirements.

CARB also has worked with truck manufacturers to ensure the successful transition of requirements for heavy-duty diesel trucks. In 2020, CARB adopted rules to reduce exhaust and smog-forming emissions from heavy-duty internal combustion engine trucks that are sold in California, known as the Omnibus regulation. The Omnibus regulation was adopted with flexibilities to allow manufacturers to focus development resources and the rollout of new technologies across the various vehicle types they produce to ensure robust supply while also achieving emissions reductions.

Updates to the Omnibus regulation that are a result of industry feedback were reviewed at an Executive Officer Hearing on 20 October to implement flexibility in meeting the requirements for manufacturers for model years 2024 through 2026 while maintaining the state’s emissions targets. Additional implementation considerations for manufacturer flexibilities will be discussed at a workshop today, which will focus on the type of projects included in the Omnibus regulation to offset emissions deficits generated by legacy engines.

Manufacturers have increased the sale of credit-generating diesel and natural gas engines that reduce smog-forming emissions, bringing cleaner engines to California ahead of the 2024 Omnibus standards. Taken together, the availability of credits generated by the sale of zero-emissions vehicles and the collaborative efforts on Omnibus flexibilities provide a clear path forward to continue meeting the heavy-duty market needs in California.

The zero-emissions report, which tracks the sale of some off-road vehicle types as well, also found that manufacturers were on track to more than double the required number of zero-emissions tractors sales, based on current sales trends and the number of funding vouchers that CARB has issued.


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