The proposal divides trucks into three classes – Class 2B-3 (which includes delivery vans with a gross vehicle weight of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds), Class 4-8 Vocational (such as shuttle buses and box delivery trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,001 pounds or greater) and 7-8 tractors (often used for long-haul freight and weighing 26,001 pounds or more).
Under the proposed Advanced Clean Truck rule, manufacturers must sell increasing percentages of electric models by specific model years. The proposal covers manufacturers that sell an annual average of more than 500 chassis or complete vehicles with combustion engines in California.
Manufacturers of Class 2B-3 vehicles would need 3 percent of sales to be electric by the 2024 model year, increasing by 2 percent each year through 2030, when 15 percent of sales would need to be zero-emission vehicles.
Class 4 through 8 vocational trucks would be on an even faster timeline; 7 percent of manufacturers’ sales in the state would need to be fully electric by the 2024 model year. By 2030, it would increase to 50 percent.
Electric sales requirements for Class 7 and 8 tractors would start at 9 percent with the 2027 model year and increase to 15 percent by 2030.
The Air Resources Board says the electric sales targets are necessary to help the state meet its aggressive climate-change targets. The goals call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Transportation’s big share of the problem
Transportation accounts for more than 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, including upstream sources from petroleum production, according to the ARB. The proposed regulations are designed to accelerate the first wave of zero-emissions truck deployments.
“Accelerating zero emissions can be done through legislative means, but it’s a balancing act between what is desirable versus what can be done at what cost,” sad Antti Lindstrom, an analyst with IHS Markit.
“I really don’t see 15 percent of Class 8 being electric by 2030, not for the U.S. as a whole for sure, and even California alone seems questionable,” Lindstrom added. “For that kind of share, prices would need to come down much closer to parity with the conventional-technology trucks so that trucking companies can afford them.”
The ARB says the total cost of ownership for battery electrics will be more favorable than diesel by 2024 for many local and work truck applications, and fuel cell electric vehicles could approach price parity with diesel by 2030. For now, electric trucks are more expensive. The Tesla Semi, for example, will cost $150,000 for the 300-mile range version and $180,000 for the 500-mile range truck, compared with $125,000 for a diesel-powered Class 8 truck.
“We have business customers who have to make money and tell us what they want to complete their task, whatever that is,” said Timothy Blubaugh, executive vice president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.
“We can’t sell a product to a customer if they can’t recharge it or use it to get their task done and make a profit,” he said.
Blubaugh’s organization was one of nearly three dozen that attended the California Air Resources Board presentation at the California Energy Commission to weigh in on the state’s proposed Advanced Clean Truck standards. Others included environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and American Lung Association; manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz; and trucking trade groups and delivery companies including FedEx, UPS and PepsiCo.
“California has some of the worst air quality in the country, and getting cleaner trucks on the road is one of the biggest things we can do to address that,” said Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
O’Dea said that even with 80,000 zero-emission Class 8 trucks on the road by 2030 as a result of the Advanced Clean Truck standard, “it’s nowhere where we need to be when viewed in the context of our climate goals.”
Electric trucks and buses make up a tiny fraction of heavy-duty vehicle sales now. But the offerings are increasing. Daimler Trucks is testing electric Freightliners. Volvo Trucks also is designing and testing an electric truck.
There’s also a host of smaller companies moving into the market. Bluebird, BYD, Chanje, Lightning Systems, Lion Electric, GreenPower, Kalmar Ottawa, Motiv, Phoenix Motorcars, OrangeEV and Workhorse Group are among the manufacturers offering commercially available electric trucks and vans. And startups including Nikola, Tesla and Thor Trucks have all announced production plans for zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles.
The new Advanced Clean Truck regulations will have two more board hearings before they are set.