California Seeks to Eliminate Diesel Trucks

If you operate any type of drayage truck in California – whether or not you are based there – you need to be aware of a pending deadline for registering your diesel-powered trucks with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Last month, CARB took another step toward eliminating diesel trucks in that state. By unanimously adopting its Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) rules, CARB set out a timeline under which all trucks operated in the state must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) – that is, 100% electric -- by 2035, 2040 or 2045, depending on the size or type of truck.

The ACF rules are the counterpart to California’s Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rules, which require that an annually increasing percentage of truck sales in the state be ZEVs. ACT governs truck sales; ACF governs which trucks may be used in the state. Six other states have adopted ACT rules and may follow California’s lead on fleet rules.

The ACF rules set out three categories of truck fleets:

  • Drayage trucks
  • So-called “high-priority” (large) fleets
  • Government-owned fleets

CARB has set a timeframe for each category to buy ZEVs and remove internal combustion (ICE) trucks from use in California. An option exists for high-priority and government fleets to meet CARB’s ZEV goals through an increasing percentage of the total fleet rather than on a truck-by-truck basis.

Operators of drayage trucks, those which serve California ports and intermodal yards, must purchase only ZEVs beginning in 2024. All older drayage trucks must be registered with CARB by December 31, 2023 and then would be allowed to serve out their useful life.

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? Trucking has testified to CARB that zero-emission vehicles are not readily available, that truck batteries are heavy and have limited range, and that the electric charging infrastructure is incomplete and unreliable. The CARB response is that the ACF rules provide exemptions, although for a limited time and requiring complex applications and justification.

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