Feb 8, 2024

Zero-Emission Trucks Gaining Traction Nationwide, Not Just in California

In recent years, there has been a growing push towards reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable transportation practices. While electric and hybrid cars have been making headlines, the spotlight is now shifting towards an often overlooked sector of the transportation industry – trucks.

The use of traditional diesel trucks has long been a major contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in heavily populated areas. However, with advancements in technology and a greater emphasis on environmental responsibility, the concept of zero-emission trucks is gaining traction nationwide.

And contrary to popular belief, this movement is not limited to the progressive state of California. From bustling cities to rural communities, trucking companies are starting to recognize the cost benefits of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.

In this article, we will explore the growing trend of zero-emission trucks and the impact it is having on the transportation industry, not just in California, but across the nation.

Not Limited To California

Contrary to popular belief, electric trucks are not limited to California. While California remains the frontrunner in adopting zero-emission trucks (ZETs), other states are making significant progress in certain truck segments.

According to a recent white paper by Calstart, a nonprofit clean transportation advocacy group, the adoption of electric trucks is experiencing rapid growth, although ZETs still represent a small fraction of the total number of trucks on the road.

As of June, California has deployed approximately 3,075 ZETs, leading the nation in this regard. However, this accounts for less than 20% of total ZET deployments in the United States. Following closely behind California, states like Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois have also made notable strides in ZET deployments.

Electric Cargo Vans Lead The Way

The surge in Class 2b cargo vans has been nothing short of extraordinary, driving the overall increase in the market. Currently, there are approximately 14,400 cargo vans in the U.S. that produce zero tailpipe emissions.

Interestingly, a significant portion of these vans, specifically 11,835, hit the roads during the first half of 2023, as reported by Calstart. Surprisingly, Texas has managed to surpass California and lead the pack in terms of electric cargo van adoption, with Florida securing the third spot.

This remarkable growth in the cargo van market can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, BrightDrop's entry into the market with an appealing price point has played a crucial role in driving the expansion.

Additionally, the introduction of Ford's product has further fueled the rapid growth in this sector. Paul Gioupis, the CEO of Zeem Solutions, an electric infrastructure developer, highlighted the significance of these developments, stating that this particular area is expanding at an exceptional pace.

The increasing adoption of zero-emission cargo vans can be attributed to higher production volumes, particularly from established automakers, as well as enhanced marketing campaigns. Cargo vans benefit from requiring smaller batteries, catering to their relatively short duty cycles for repeating pickup and delivery routes.

Moreover, they boast a significantly lower upfront cost compared to larger zero-emission trucks. Another advantage of cargo vans is the ability to recharge overnight at the base, further solidifying their appeal.

While cargo vans lead the way in zero-emission transportation deployments, other categories are also witnessing notable progress. Yard tractors, responsible for moving trailers within distribution yards, have seen 1,134 deployments.

Class 8 heavy-duty trucks follow with 867 deployments, while medium-duty step vans, medium-duty trucks, and refuse trucks have experienced 843, 442, and 48 deployments, respectively. This diversified growth across multiple segments signifies the broader adoption of zero-emission vehicles and the promising future of sustainable transportation.

Carrots And Sticks Drive EV Adoption

California's strategy to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) relies on a combination of incentives and regulations. The state's Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to produce increasing numbers of electric trucks.

Additionally, the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which has faced legal challenges, mandates that fleets purchase these electric trucks. Both regulations aim to phase out diesel trucks in California by 2045.

Research conducted by Calstart reveals that the 10 states that have implemented regulations similar to the ACT rule account for 38% of all zero-emission truck (ZET) deployments, despite representing only 25% of all truck registrations.

California's voucher program for ZETs, along with the federal Commercial Clean Vehicle Credit, offers up to $7,500 towards the purchase price of zero-emission cargo vans. This combination of incentives makes electric cargo vans cost-competitive when compared to traditional combustion-powered vans.

However, the adoption of electric Class 8 heavy-duty trucks has been slow due to the large number of diesel-powered trucks currently in use. Nevertheless, John Rich, the chief technology officer of Paccar Inc., acknowledges the potential of battery electric trucks and expresses commitment to invest and develop assets to support their growth.

Paccar Inc. has started with smaller volumes to learn from customer feedback and plans to build the next generation of electric trucks.

The Emissions Factor

The urgent need to combat pollution caused by nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide has sparked a renewed focus on developing cleaner trucks. An area of particular concern is the major ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, where a significant amount of pollution is generated.

Unfortunately, nearby low-income neighborhoods have reported heightened health risks due to the presence of diesel trucks idling while waiting to enter the ports.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is responsible for approximately 28% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Surprisingly, while medium- and heavy-duty trucks make up just 10% of vehicles on the road, they contribute to almost 30% of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, 45% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and over half of the fine particulate matter emissions produced by all vehicles.

This emphasizes the crucial role that these trucks play in the overall pollution levels and highlights the need for immediate action to address their environmental impact.

In Conclusion

As we continue to see an increase in the demand for zero-emission trucks, it is clear that this trend is not limited to just California. With more states and companies committing to reducing their carbon footprint, we can expect to see even more growth in the market for zero-emission trucks.

This is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also proves that sustainable solutions are becoming more accessible and feasible for businesses nationwide. We can only hope that this positive momentum continues and leads us towards a greener and cleaner future for the trucking industry.

If you want to stay updated with a wide range of trends, actionable insights, and innovative solutions in the trucking, freight, and logistics industry, stay connected to us.

Moreover, If you are looking for more information about drug and alcohol testing as a truck driver, visit LabWorks USA.

Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant, especially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.