The California Air Resources Board, a government entity responsible for ensuring the protection of clean air to all residents of the US State, has voted to ban all sales of diesel-powered trucks by 2036.
In the latest automotive news to come out of the US, the Advanced Clean Fleets regulations comes at the heels of a previous Advanced Clean Trucks rule already in implementation since 2020.
Warnings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say there is little to no time left before humanity irreversibly damages the Climate due to its industrial and automotive emissions. The California regulators decided to strengthen their resolve to protect the planet in light of this.
The initial target was for 2040, but in light of new developments and the progress made so far, the regulatory body re-evaluated and set 2036 as the new target date.
The rule puts two-sided pressure, one on the manufacturers to ensure that their truck lines are ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) and the other on businesses and departments to ensure their fleets are ZEV too.
Realistic Expectations and Relaxations.
CARB has laid out clearly that new additions to the fleet must be ZEV. Yet they do understand that phasing out diesel ones can be difficult in terms of both finances and road requirements. As such, it has created categories and exceptions to its rules.
For example, it allows diesel vehicles to be used normally until they reach the end of their typical life cycle. Other exceptions include smooth transitions, with State and local entities requiring at least 50% all new trucks purchased be ZEV by 2024, with 100% compliance by 2027.
It also recognizes that some operations may not be able to use the new automotive technology vehicles due to limitations (battery power solutions) or other constraints (time sensitive equipment and cargo, for example). This includes semi-trucks moving on highways. For these, it has set a different target of 2035 (50% ZEVs), 2042 (70% ZEVs) and 2045 (100% ZEVs).
The delayed and separate timelines are set to allow manufacturers to come up with better battery technologies, increase efficiency and build the required charging infrastructure.
California Leads ZEV Sector
California has been increasingly active in controlling emissions. The California Energy Commission (CEC) and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have been tracking sales of ZEVs in the state and the statistics are available on different automotive technology news platforms.
Data by CEC shows that more than 1.5 million ZEVs have been sold in the State since 2011, reaching its sales goal two years earlier than anticipated. According to the website of the regulators, there are more than 100 different light and medium ZEVs options available to Californians and they have the option to charge or refuel their vehicles from more than 87,700 stations Statewide.
Better Health Through Cleaner Air
There are several high profile supporters of the new regulations that say the new rule will have an increasingly positive impact on the health and environment of California.
According to nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, heavy-duty trucks are responsible for almost one-third NOs emissions, while light and medium trucks (though accounting only 10% of vehicles on road, are responsible for over a quarter of greenhouse gasses. One estimate puts $4.6 billion in health benefits, which will be avoided by curbing diesel emissions and therefore, lives.
A senior policy analyst for the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice Frontline, Andrea Vidaurre, supported this move, saying;
“Frontline communities across California who breathe in deadly diesel pollution every day can finally get some relief with the Advanced Clean Fleets rule,”… “There is no acceptable level of exposure to deadly diesel pollution — so it has got to go, for the sake of our health and our lungs”
While many are hailing the automotive tech news by California as a good one, truck manufacturers are not so happy. Major manufacturers are opposing the regulation, citing economic factors and the cost involved in developing and manufacturing electric versions of their trucks.
Large trucks are even more difficult as there is a lot of cost involved in electric conversion and most importantly, the stress and range achievement with current battery and motor technologies.
Even some trucking firms have sided with them, saying that deadlines will force them to spend much more on procuring electric trucks and raise the cost of transportation of goods. They are also seriously questioning the ability of the authorities and the manufacturers to provide enough charging stations all over California. Shortage of charging and fueling points will mean longer routes with fewer stations would be difficult to run. On top of that, the extra time to wait for any port to be free to charge trucks would bring unnecessary delays in shipment.
California authorities seemed unaffected by the resistance though. The State has already instituted a previous act that bans the sales of new gasoline powered cars by 2035.