Sustainability: ZEV Trucks

While almost 19% of cars sold last year in California were electric vehicles (EVs), fewer than 2% of trucks sold were electric. Given that medium- and heavy-duty trucks are a major source of pollution (26% of the total attributed to transportation), it is reassuring that the California Air Resources Board has set a goal of achieving a zero-emission (ZEV) truck and bus fleet by 2045. To achieve a smooth transition, the intermediate goals are to have 100% of drayage trucks (taking goods from ports to nearby locations for further transport) and government fleets be ZEV by 2035, and to have trash trucks and local buses be ZEV by 2040. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted California the Clean Air Act waivers to set these stricter pollution rules at the end of March, and several other states representing 22% of the national truck market are expected to follow suit.


Current E-truck models have a range of up to 250 miles, but the charging infrastructure for long trips is still a work in progress. The first use envisioned is for local deliveries with a daily mileage of up to 200 miles. E-trucks are more expensive to buy, but they are much less expensive to maintain. Federal and state grants are available to help subsidize the transition from diesel trucks to E-trucks. There are also major health benefits for getting rid of diesel pollution from trucks, especially for those living along heavily trafficked routes like the I-5 here and the I-710 in Los Angeles.


Electric delivery vans and U.S. mail trucks are hitting the road now. FedEx has pledged to have 50% of new vans to be purchased be electric by 2025. The U.S. Postal Service has ordered 9,250 E-vans and 14,000 charging stations, many to be acquired/installed in the next year. The Postal Service also will purchase at least 66,000 e-trucks in the next 5 years, which is almost one third of their total fleet.


This increase in E-vehicles of all classes will only yield full benefits if we clean up our electricity power supply to eliminate fossil fuel sources and upgrade transmission infrastructure and add battery storage for grid reliability. These are expensive but necessary challenges to meet to ensure our clean air future.

Congestion on I-5. From the Sandpiper Archives.