CARB Passes Mandate for Zero-Emissions Heavy Trucks by 2035
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has passed a landmark mandate requiring manufacturers to transition to zero-emissions technology for all new trucks sold in California by 2035. The rules call for 5% of new truck sales to be zero-emissions by 2030 before rising to 100% battery or hydrogen fuel cell trucks just five years later. The aggressive move aims to accelerate the adoption of electric and hydrogen-powered heavy trucks to meet climate goals, though faces pushback from manufacturers concerned about feasibility and costs.
Overview of the Zero-Emissions Truck Mandate
- Applies to all Class 2b-8 commercial trucks sold in California from medium-duty to heavy-duty like semis.
- Requires 5% of 2030 truck sales be zero-emissions, increasing to 50% by 2035 and 100% by 2035.
- Covers key truck categories – delivery, port drayage, utility, dump, public fleet, tractor trailers.
- Allows battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell powertrains to meet the mandate.
- Part of California’s wider plan to fully phase out diesel-powered trucks by 2045.
How the Zero-Emissions Rules Are Structured
The CARB zero-emissions truck mandates impose:
- Annual manufacturer sales requirements for zero-emissions trucks as a percentage of total trucks sold in California.
- Separate quotas by weight categories to cover Class 2b through Class 8 trucks.
- Credits and deficit systems to track manufacturer compliance.
- Reporting of advance technology truck sales into vehicle registration databases.
- Strict emissions standards heavy trucks must meet.
- Financial penalties on manufacturers for any noncompliance shortfalls.
Purpose and Motivations Behind the Policy
Key drivers behind CARB’s zero-emissions truck mandate include:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, especially diesel particulates.
- Improve California’s air quality and public health by phasing out fossil fuel vehicles.
- Achieve carbon neutrality goals statewide by 2045.
- Increase adoption rates of zero-emissions trucks through forced industry transition.
- Spur manufacturers to invest and innovate faster on clean transportation technology.
- Transition diesel-dependent industry sectors like ports and logistics to cleaner operations.
- Support related grid infrastructure development for commercial vehicle charging.
Projected Impact on Emissions
CARB estimates requiring 100% electrification or hydrogen conversion of new trucks sold annually by 2035 would:
- Cut truck-related NOx emissions by >80% statewide by 2050.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from diesel trucks by >50% by 2040.
- Eliminate nearly all diesel particulate matter pollution from trucks.
- Provide $24 billion in healthcare savings from cleaner air over 25 years.
- Eliminate annual carbon emissions from trucks equivalent to taking 2 million passenger cars off the road.
Companies and Sectors Affected
The rules stand to directly impact:
- Heavy truck manufacturers – Daimler, Paccar, Volvo, Ford, GM, Navistar
- Trucking fleets – US Xpress, Werner, J.B. Hunt, Knight-Swift
- Port trucking operations and drayage providers
- Local/regional delivery companies like UPS and FedEx
- Freight railroads interfacing with trucking
- Commercial truck fleet operators across agriculture, construction, energy
- Bus and motorcoach manufacturers and transit agencies
- Truck charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure builders
Costs and Investments Needed
Major new costs and investments stemming from the mandate include:
- Manufacturers spending billions on R&D and factories tooled for electric and hydrogen trucks.
- Expensive batteries adding $30,000+ to upfront truck costs over diesel.
- New fueling infrastructure for fleet charging depots and commercial corridors.
- Electrical grid upgrades to handle heavy truck charging load.
- Expanded renewable energy generation to power clean grid electrons.
- Hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure for fuel cell trucks.
- Potential secondary market for emissions credit trading.
Key Milestones on the Path to Full Transition
- 2024 – Rule implementation and tracking of truck sales begins.
- 2027 – Stricter NOx emissions standards take effect for diesel trucks.
- 2030 – First 5% ZEV truck sales mandate kicks in.
- 2035 – Requirement increases to 50% of sales being zero-emissions.
- 2040 – Statewide diesel truck phase-out goal date.
- 2045 – 100% ZEV truck sales mandate fully in effect.
- 2045 – Last model year for diesel truck registration in California.
Pushback and Concerns from Manufacturers
Truck makers have cited feasibility issues with the rapid zero-emissions transition rules:
- Fast pace of required technology deployment at scale.
- Insufficient time to develop electric models for all truck classes.
- Large investments ahead of consumer demand.
- Lack of charging and hydrogen infrastructure to support transition.
- Emissions targets not aligned with improvements to grid for charging power.
- Cost challenges acquiring battery volumes needed as supply chains are still nascent.
- Federal emissions standards not aligned with California’s more aggressive stance.
Opportunities Alongside the Transition Challenges
Despite concerns, the mandate encourages:
- Incumbents to invest aggressively in electrification to remain competitive.
- Expanded cleantech entrepreneurism and jobs growth around charging networks, batteries, fuel cells.
- Trucking and fleet operators to negotiate advanced purchasing of electric vehicles.
- Accelerated research partnerships between manufacturers and utilities.
- Grid operators to work closely with trucking industry on infrastructure planning.
- Improved health outcomes and healthcare savings from reduced pollution.
The 2035 Mandate in Context
The 100% zero-emissions truck requirement by 2035:
- Follows earlier CARB rule to require truck fleets transition to electric power incrementally each year.
- Comes alongside VOC emission reduction mandates for diesel trucks.
- Builds on wider CARB strategy to phase out gas and diesel vehicles in favor of EVs and fuel cells.
- Parallels ‘Advanced Clean Truck Rule’ announced by 15 other states.
- Comes on heels of landmark climate legislation in California supporting transition.
Outlook Beyond 2035
Looking post-2035, key strategic questions emerge:
- Will diesel trucks become entirely obsolete after production halt or continue operating?
- How to balance EV adoption pace against power grid enhancement rate?
- Can sufficient EV battery and hydrogen supplies be ensured?
- Will used truck prices spike given limited used EV truck availability?
- How to equip emergency services, utilities, farms and other specialized truck users?
- How will trucking labor force retrain for EV maintenance and operation?
- Will charging infrastructure funding suffice for heavy truck corridors?
The Bottom Line
California’s historic 2035 mandate for 100% electrified or hydrogen trucks marks an aggressive move that will profoundly reshape truck manufacturing, fleet operations and infrastructure in coming years. Managing the ambitious transition timeline and costs across stakeholders will prove challenging but holds potential to significantly cut diesel emissions if achieved.