Heavy-duty trucks are responsible for 70% of vehicle air pollution in the state.
The days of diesel delivery trucks and vans in California are numbered. On Thursday, the state’s Air Resources Board adopted a new rule that will phase out these most polluting of vehicles from the state over the next quarter-century. Beginning in 2024, OEMs that want to sell medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the state will have to ensure that some of those trucks are zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). Over time, the percentage of those ZEV trucks has to increase, so that by 2045, any new truck sold in the state will be emission-free. Currently, CARB estimates that 2 million diesel trucks and vans are the cause of 70 percent of smog-causing pollution in the state.
“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.
The new rule excludes light trucks (8,500lbs/3,855kg and under), so the new Ford F-150 doesn’t count. But it does apply to pretty much anything bigger than that—class 2b (like a Ford F-250 for example) all the way through the biggest class 8 trucks and tractors. The mandate starts gently: in 2024, only 3 percent of class 2b and class 3 trucks, 7 percent of class 4 through 8 trucks, and 3 percent of class 7 and 8 tractors have to be emissions free. And in fact, for pickup trucks—ie trucks that came from the factory with a load bed rather than some other configuration—the class 2b-class 3 rule only kicks in during 2027.
But just 10 years from now, half of all new trucks and vans sold in California in classes 4 through 8—which includes everything from the package delivery van to the biggest garbage trucks—will have to be ZEVs. And by 2035, CARB says that 55 percent of all class 2b-3 trucks, 75 percent of all class 4 through 8 trucks and vans, and 40 percent of all class 7 and 8 trucks and tractors sold in the state have to be ZEVs.
To encourage the OEMs to get with the program, they can earn emissions credits, beginning with model year 2021 vehicles. (And they can’t double-count these emissions credits with other emissions credits they could earn under California’s existing electric vehicle mandate.)
Additionally, many businesses that operate fleets of commercial vehicles will be required to start reporting on those fleets. It won’t apply to school buses, transit agencies, or ride-hailing transportation network companies, but other businesses that operate medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are in for more paperwork.
“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. 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,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols.