With Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation, CARB Sets Aggressive Targets and Timelines
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released the text of its proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulation, which is designed to require wide-scale and rapid adoption of battery-electric and fuel cell-powered trucks in the state. With this draft regulation, California continues its aggressive efforts to curtail tailpipe emissions in the state and sends a signal to manufacturers that electric and fuel cells vehicles will be preferred in medium- and heavy-duty applications. The regulation will likely serve as a model for other states, including the 14 states (plus the District of Columbia) that signed an MOU with California in 2013 to cooperate on zero emission vehicle rules.
The key provisions of the regulation are as follows:
- First, beginning with Model Year 2040, manufacturers who sell medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles in California only may sell “zero emission vehicles,” with the only exception being authorized emergency vehicles. The term “zero-emission vehicles” is defined consistently with existing California regulations and is very strict, to mean “an on-road vehicle with a drivetrain that produces zero exhaust emissions of any criteria pollutant (or precursor pollutant) or greenhouse gas under any possible operational modes or conditions.” Only battery-powered and fuel cell vehicles meet that definition currently. Other drivetrain technologies, such as hydrogen internal combustion engines, do not qualify, if, as tested according to California requirements, they emit “any” criteria pollutant (including nitrogen oxides) or greenhouse gas.
- Second, beginning in 2025, 50% of the total annual vehicle purchases by public agencies that do not solely serve low-population areas must be zero-emission vehicles. By 2027, all vehicles purchased by public agencies in the state must be zero-emission vehicles. These requirements are subject to certain exemptions for emergency vehicles, snow removal vehicles, historical vehicles, military tactical vehicles, school buses, and transit vehicles covered by the Innovative Clean Transit regulation.
- Third, owners of fleets of certain vans, trucks and work vehicles in California must make zero emission vehicles an increasing percentage of their fleet, starting in 2025, with different schedules for different types of vehicles. There are exemptions for backup vehicles and emergency vehicles, as well as compliance pathways to use hybrid vehicles for a period of time. However, regulated fleets will need to be 100% zero emission starting in 2035 for box trucks or vans, two-axle buses, and yard tractors; by 2042 all regulated fleets must be composed of 100% zero emission vehicles.
- Finally, beginning on November 1, 2023, all drayage trucks (heavy-duty trucks that operate in seaports and intermodal railyards) that register with the state drayage truck database for the first time must have a zero-emissions powertrain and be a zero-emission vehicle. The term “zero-emissions powertrain” is defined to include only all-electric or hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. Legacy drayage trucks would be allowed to operate in the state (a) for 13 years after certification or (b) until the truck travels 800,000 miles or 18 years from the date of original certification, whichever is earlier. Beginning January 1, 2035 all drayage trucks must be zero-emission vehicles. As with the other regulations announced in this package, there are certain exceptions, for example for emergency vehicles, trucks that operate at facilities exempted by executive order, and trucks operating during emergencies.
A public hearing on the draft regulation is scheduled for September 9, 2021. CARB is requesting comments by September 27 on the draft regulation and on an accompanying document describing the agency’s cost assumptions.