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California’s big plans to electrify big rigs: Zero-emissions mandates gain momentum

April 10, 2023

Source: Los Angeles Times

When people think of electric vehicles, they typically think of passenger cars, not commercial trucks or vans. But the volume of medium- and heavy-duty EVs is growing, and recent decisions by federal and California regulators are sure to increase their numbers.

“I would say roughly 30% to 40% of our business this year will be battery electric,” said Andrew Freer, commercial vehicle sales manager for Creative Bus Sales, who on Thursday showed off the Ford E-Transit, an all-electric van, at San Diego’s annual EV Fleet Day.

A couple of years ago, Freer said, just 5% of his company’s business was in the EV space. “We’re making a big push with this now,” he said.

So are the state of California and the Biden administration.

While many are familiar with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order that bans the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars by 2035, the state also has created mandates to clean up the fleet of big rigs rumbling along the Golden State’s streets and freeways.

The White House cleared the way March 31 for the Environmental Protection Agency to allow California to impose strict zero-emissions requirements on heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state. The state needed approval from the White House because the standards exceed EPA requirements.

EPA approved two Clean Air Act waivers for California, including the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which requires all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to emit zero emissions by 2045, where feasible. By 2035, truck manufacturers must increase sales of new zero-emission Class 2b-3 trucks to 55%, Class 4-8 trucks to 75% and 40% for new semi-tractors.

The new standards will start to increase next year, and Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington and Vermont are expected to follow suit. Combined with California, those states represent about 22% of the national truck market.

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