California takes action to reduce truck pollution

Original article was published on Autonomous Vehicle Technology

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted what it says is a first-in-the-world rule requiring truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024. By 2045, every new truck sold in California will be zero-emission. According to the agency, this action zeroes in on air pollution in the state’s most disadvantaged and polluted communities. 

This new rule aims to address disproportionate risks and health and pollution burdens affecting these communities and puts the state on the path for an all zero-emission short-haul drayage fleet in ports and railyards by 2035, and zero-emission “last-mile” delivery trucks and vans by 2040.

“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,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “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.”

According to the agency, trucks are the largest single source of air pollution from vehicles, responsible for 70% of the smog-causing pollution and 80% of carcinogenic diesel soot even though they number only 2 million among the 30 million registered vehicles in the state. 

This requirement to shift to zero-emission trucks, along with the ongoing shift to electric cars, will help the state meet its climate goals and federal air quality standards, especially in the Los Angeles region and the San Joaquin Valley—areas that suffer the highest levels of air pollution in the nation. Statewide, the Advanced Clean Truck regulation expects to lower related premature deaths by 1000.

Manufacturers who certify medium- and heavy-duty chassis or complete vehicles with combustion engines are required to sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual sales in California, starting in 2024. For model year 2024, 9% of all on-road Class 4-8 truck sales must be zero-emission vehicles, incrementally scaling up to 50% for 2030, and 75% for 2035 and beyond. Similarly, for Class 7-8 tractors the requirements are 5% for 2024, 30% for 2030, and 40% for 2035.\Sales requirements for Class 7-8 tractors under this regulation create alignment with the Clean Air Action Plan encompassing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which has a goal of reducing pollution from every source at the ports. Sources include ships, trains, harbor craft, cargo-handling equipment, along with 16,000 Class 8 drayage trucks currently operating at these ports.

In the coming months, CARB will also consider two complementary regulations to support this action. The first sets a new limit on NOx (oxides of nitrogen), one of the major precursors of smog. This will require that new trucks that still use fossil fuels include the most effective exhaust control technology during the transition to electric trucks. There is also a proposed requirement for larger fleets in the state to transition to electric trucks year over year.

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