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Energy Currents
A Blog by Enerdynamics

Advanced Clean Fleet Regulations Coming to California

by Christina Nagy-McKenna, Enerdynamics Facilitator

California is poised to move forward this spring with ambitious, new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle regulations. These will accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the fleet and trucking transportation sectors with the end goal of 100% ZEVs by 2045 wherever possible. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is expected to approve its Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) regulation sometime in April 2023. It will join the state’s Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) regulation that the Board approved in 2022.

While the ACT regulation is targeted toward truck manufacturers, the ACF regulation is targeted toward truck owners and users. The federal government recently approved California’s legal waiver for the ACT to move forward as the state’s new regulations are stricter than those of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ACF is the next step as the state continues its bold transition to ZEVs.

The proposed ACF regulation will apply to fleets that perform drayage operations (class 7 and 8 trucks that transport cargo to and from intermodal railyards and seaports); fleets owned by federal, state, and local government agencies and high-priority fleets that have $50 million in revenue and own or control at least one truck that is over 8,500 pounds; and those that own or control 50 or more trucks that are greater than 8,500 pounds. And while the landscape for manufacturing, on-time delivery, and the build-out of charging facilities for ZEV fleets may not be perfect in our post-pandemic, supply-chain-challenged world, the regulation is likely to move forward with some provisions for leeway as manufacturers and buyers hit bumps in the road along the way.

The ACF regulation is the next step for the state to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Drayage trucks contribute each of these pollutants, and in California, ports and railyards are often within one mile of disadvantaged communities. These trucks move back and forth between rail and port facilities, moving cargo that will go from one of these modes of transport to the other. Reducing the emissions these trucks generate provides an immediate benefit to the surrounding communities while also meeting the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to CARB, the total statewide value of avoided health outcomes associated with drayage trucks from 2024 to 2035 is approximately $3 billion[1].

Specific steps under the proposed ACF regulation are as follows:

  • As of 2024, drayage fleets may only add ZEVs to their fleet. By 2035, all drayage trucks must be ZEVs. Existing vehicles will be retired and removed from the fleet at the end of their useful life.
  • As of 2024, state and local agency fleets are required to buy ZEVs as 50% of their new vehicle purchases. By 2027, 100% of their fleet purchases must be ZEVs.
  • As of 2040, only ZEV medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be for sale in California.
  • As of 2040, 100% of local buses and garbage trucks will be ZEVs.

There is a little leeway in the ACF regulation in cases of unexpected cancellations, no availability of ZEV trucks for highly specific uses with specialty equipment, or a lack of charging infrastructure. In a recent change to the proposed regulation, if an order is cancelled by the manufacturer, the buyer now has 180 days to find a replacement instead of only 90 days. Some specialty trucks may also not yet exist in ZEV form. CARB will maintain a list of such vehicles that cannot be replaced by ZEVs due to the lack of availability. Lastly, charging infrastructure issues may be beyond the control of the of the ZEV owner. The owner must be able to show CARB that it is unable to comply with its regulation to receive an exemption.

Undoubtably, California is ready to move forward. Where ACT regulations created new manufacturing goals for medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs, the proposed, ground-breaking ACF regulations will create market demand for these products. There is some concern in the transportation and trucking industries, as well as among fleet owners, that the goals set by California are too ambitious. There are others who are bolstered to see a roadmap to ZEVs that can be replicated by other states and the federal government. Given the recent waiver from the EPA, the state has garnered support to break new ground in cleaning up this sector of the transportation market. CARB is expected to vote on the proposed regulation this spring.

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