Diving letter:

  • According to Jennifer Helfrich, senior manager of government at Ceres, moving all medium and heavy trucks in the United States to zero-emission vehicles by 2040 would result in cumulative pollution savings of $ 485 billion by 2050.
  • Lower emissions from freight and shipping are particularly intended to help tackle pollution problems in low-income and environmentally friendly neighborhoods. “This is a real economic upswing and a very real human benefit,” said Helfrich on Wednesday during the virtual conference Ceres 2021.
  • California is a national leader when it comes to electrifying transportation, although experts say other states are following suit. It is planned that zero-emission vehicles will account for 100% of light commercial vehicle sales in California by 2035, including short-haul and drayage trucks. The state’s full switch to ZEV buses and heavy long-haul trucks is expected to be completed by 2045.

Dive Insight:

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and has grown steadily in most states, according to Helfrich. Heavy haulage accounts for a disproportionate share of these emissions, she said.

Heavy-duty trucks make up 5% of the vehicles on the road, Helfrich said, “but they account for more than 25% of total US transportation emissions.” Emissions from the heavy haulage sector also hit low-income and colored communities particularly hard, as hubs and ports are typically located where shipping centers and ports are located.

“The next big frontier in decarbonization is medium and heavy duty vehicles,” she said.

According to Helfrich, the transition from an internal combustion engine to an electric vehicle already leads to cost savings over the life of a light commercial vehicle as well as for most medium and some heavy commercial vehicles. And “upfront cost parity is actually just around the corner from what we would have said not so long ago,” she said for smaller vehicles.

Light commercial vehicles are expected to have cost parity upfront by 2022. “Investing in electrification is a breeze when you combine these cost savings with the significant savings from health and the avoidance of climate risks,” said Helfrich.

There are current data points that illustrate the growth of the ZEV truck market. On Thursday, the Montreal-based ZEV manufacturer Lion Electric announced its largest single order to date for zero-emission trucks from Pride Group Enterprises.

Pride will “integrate the all-electric trucks into its existing logistics, maintenance, leasing, rental and equipment businesses in the US and Canada and deploy them with a selection of its fleet management customers,” Lion said in a statement.

Most of the trucks are expected to be delivered to Pride this year, with the rest arriving in 2022. Lion CEO and Founder Marc Bedard, In a statement, the contract was described as “a milestone in the introduction and use of heavy electric vehicles – further proof that zero-emission freight is here”.

Corporations see both profit and sustainability in electrified trucks, but Helfrich said strict guidelines are needed to coordinate industry stakeholders and “drive market transformation at a pace and scale that the private sector cannot achieve on its own.” California in particular is “setting the stage”, with other states like New Jersey following suit, she said.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed an Advanced Clean Trucks regulation last year that includes a manufacturer sales component. The reporting requirements for fleets have been included in another rule creation, said Tony Brasil, head of CARB’s transportation and clean technologies division, at the Ceres event on Wednesday.

A loan to sell high-performance ZEVs will be launched this year, Brazil said. Fleets will report data from April 2021.

“We assume that there will be around 300,000 emission-free medium and heavy trucks [in California] by the 2035 timeframe, “said Brazil.

CARB is also proposing an Advanced Clean Fleets rule for the transition to ZEV trucks and buses from 2023 to 2045. Public fleets would have to buy 100% ZEV by 2027. This is to be submitted to the CARB board of directors for decision in December, said Brazil.

“There are already a number of vehicles out there and more technology improvements are expected,” said Brazil as ZEV suppliers and manufacturers introduced more commercial components for the vehicles.

Other states are looking for “inspiration” in California, said Peg Hanna, assistant director of aerial surveillance and mobile source programs for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The state has set a goal of reducing emissions by 80% across the economy by 80% by 2050 compared to 2006, and has identified transport as a key area that needs to be addressed.

“We are following the example of CARB and are trying to adopt the progressive clean truck rule,” said Hanna at the Ceres event. The state also wants to adopt others low emissions and Fleet Modernization Rules “to try to get short term reductions in some of the [environmental justice] Areas most affected by the movement of goods in our ports. “