The California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved its Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) rules in late April, setting the stage for the state to completely ban the use of diesel-powered trucks. The CARB goal is that all fleets operating in that state will be 100% electric by 2035, 2040 or 2045, based on the size or type of truck.
As reported earlier by PrePass, the ACF rules apply to truck fleets as a counterpart to California’s Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rules, adopted in 2021 and applicable to truck manufacturers. It mandates an increasing percentage of trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Simply put, the ACT rules say what trucks carriers can buy in the state; the ACF rules say what trucks carriers can operate in the state.
Six other states – Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont – have also adopted similar ACT rules on the sales of ZEVs in their states. With California’s approval of ACF, those jurisdictions have announced their intent to move forward with fleet rules, as well.
At the CARB hearing, trucking association and motor carrier representatives testified: zero-emissions vehicles are in their infancy; that batteries are heavy and have limited range; that the electric charging infrastructure is incomplete and unreliable; and the ACF rules would severely limit the trucking industry’s ability to meet the needs of California businesses and consumers. CARB also heard from environmental and health advocates and representatives from minority communities who said these steps were necessary to reach clean air goals and combat climate change.
The results will show in the future – but how soon that future arrives depends in part on which of three buckets fleets may find themselves in:
Drayage fleets. Trucks serving California ports and intermodal yards must register with the CARB Online System to continue working in the state. But here’s the catch: internal combustion engine drayage trucks can only register with CARB through Dec. 31, 2023. Beginning in 2024, the CARB Online System will only accept registration by zero-emission drayage trucks. The old, so-called “legacy,” drayage trucks may serve out their useful life, but all California drayage trucks must be ZEVs by 2035.
High priority fleets. A “high-priority fleet” is defined by CARB as entities that own, operate, or direct at least one vehicle in California, and that have either $50 million or more in gross annual revenues, or that own, operate, or have common ownership or control of a total of 50 or more vehicles, excluding light-duty package delivery vehicles. These fleets must purchase only ZEVs beginning 2024 and, starting Jan. 1, 2025, must remove internal combustion engine vehicles at the end of their useful life. High-priority fleets have an option to meet ZEV goals as a percentage of their total fleet. The ultimate 100% ZEV goals vary by year and type of truck.
State and local agencies. Fleets owned by California governmental units are required to make 50% of vehicle purchases as zero-emission beginning in 2024 and 100% of vehicle purchases as zero-emission by 2027. These government fleets may also meet ZEV goals by a percentage of their total fleet – but for them, all vehicle purchases must be ZEVs by 2035.
What if ZEVs are not available for purchase? What if the ZEVs offered do not have the range or capabilities needed in specific trucking operations? The ACF rules provide limited time exemptions, requiring complex applications and justification. ACF is a full-time employment regulation for truck purchasing personnel and government compliance officers.
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