california truck

California’s decision to end the sale of new diesel trucks from 2036 threatens to leave Europe’s truck industry behind, campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) warned this week.

California last week announced it will ban the sale of new diesel trucks from 2036. In comparison, both the UK and EU are planning to ban sales of new diesel trucks from 2040.

The ruling, hailed as a world first, was voted for unanimously by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Under the mandate large operators must also convert their fleets to zero emission trucks by 2042.

With California's economy estimated to be the fifth largest in the world, the move ramps up pressure on truck manufacturers to step up their development of zero emission trucks, with many lorries on California's roads made by European OEMs.

T&E said European truckmakers’ global dominance will be threatened unless the EU sets similarly ambitious CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “This is the most ambitious truck pollution law anywhere in the world. It will directly challenge the EU’s industrial leadership.

"European truckmakers are in a global competition to lead on zero-emissions vehicles, but weak EU standards could leave them in the rear-view mirror. The EU needs a 100% target in 2035 and more ambition in 2030 if its truck industry is to stay in the race.”

T&E points to research which shows that HGVs play an outsized role in transport CO2 emissions and would be the world’s fourth largest emitter if they were a country.

In Europe, the EU Parliament and governments are debating a proposed 45% CO2 reduction target for new trucks in 2030, and a -90% target in 2040.

T&E said the 2030 proposal lags behind truck manufacturers’ own plans and should be increased to -65%.

It points out that the EU’s draft 2040 standard would virtually ensure that diesel freight trucks are still on the road in 2050 – when the EU aims to be climate neutral."

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Under the Californian ruling, truck manufacturers will only be allowed to sell zero-emission models of heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks in the State of California from 2036.

The mandate also requires operators with 50 or more trucks,  including federal agencies such as the US Post, to convert their fleet to net zero by 2042.

Deadlines under the mandate vary, with state and local agencies required to purchase 50% zero emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2024, and 100% ZEV by 2027.

Trucks that transport cargo from ports to distribution centres have an even tighter target and must reach 100% all-electric purchases by 2024.

Chris Shimoda, California Trucking Association senior vice president of government affairs, has raised concerns at the timespan given to operators to convert to net zero fleets.

He said: “Meeting California’s goal of deploying more than half a million zero-emission commercial trucks by 2040 would require an average of about 38% of new truck sales to be zero-emission vehicles. This is not realistic for the commercial trucking sector. “

He added: “California would need to install as many as 800 chargers per week to power truck fleets, representing anywhere from 64 to 158 megawatts of new charging capacity – enough energy to power 118,000 households.”

He warned the mandate will “punish truckers for not purchasing trucks which have not been built, and require them to accept trucks that they cannot plug in.”

In response to concerns raised, CARB has pledged to review the mandate's roll out and the availability of zero-emission trucks and charging infrastructure, by the end of 2025.

Gideon Kracov, CARB member and environmental lawyer hailed the mandate as world leading and one which will benefit residents’ health and the wider environment.

He said: “Ten years from now, when we look back to this day…we can say that California has changed the world. We can say that California did this right.”