California Air Resources Board Passes First Electric Truck Sales Standard and Sets Bar for Country to Follow

Statement by Jimmy O’Dea, Senior Vehicles Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 25, 2020

OAKLAND, Calif. (June 25, 2020)—The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today passed the first statewide electric truck sales standard for truck manufacturers in a move closely watched by transportation experts worldwide. The standard requires manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric trucks each year beginning in 2024 resulting in 15 percent of trucks on the road being electric by 2035. That will amount to roughly 300,000 out of about 1.9 million total trucks expected on California roads that year.

There are about 28 million trucks and buses in the United States and nearly 2 million in California. Heavy-duty vehicles emit 45 percent of the nation’s on-road nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 57 percent of its fine particulate matter (PM2.5)pollution. Trucks and buses combined make up 10 percent of all vehicles on the road today and 28 percent of all carbon emissions from on-road vehicles in the U.S.

Electric trucks do not emit any NOx or PM2.5 pollution during vehicle operation. Additionally, an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found electric trucks in California emit 68 to 88 percent less life cycle global warming emissions than similar diesel trucks, depending on the type of vehicle.

Below is a statement by Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst at UCS. O’Dea is a clean vehicle, freight technology and transportation policy expert.

“The sales standard is the biggest step to-date for electric trucks. It will move the industry from press releases and pilot projects to large-scale production of electric trucks. Fortunately, multiple manufacturers already offer electric truck models so the industry will be able to meet these targets.

“Most trucks on the road today are diesel powered and create harmful emissions that disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities due to their proximity to roads and heavy traffic corridors. Every diesel truck replaced with an electric truck has an immediate positive impact on public health.

“For California to achieve carbon neutrality in the next 25 years we have to get as close as possible to 100 percent zero-emission trucks and buses on the roads. The sales standard for manufacturers passed today is a major step towards that goal. California's commitment to additional clean truck policies, including continued financial incentives to purchase electric trucks, investments in charging infrastructure, fair and reasonable charging rates and purchasing standards for private and public fleets, should send a clear market signal for immediate investment in zero-emission technologies.”

O’Dea’s reports and analyses include “Delivering Opportunity: How Electric Buses and Trucks Can Create Jobs and Improve Public Health in California,” “The Promises and Limits of Biomethane as a Transportation Fuel” and most recently, “Ready to Work: Now Is the Time for Heavy-Duty Electric Vehicles.” His scientific research previously focused on new materials for hydrogen fuel cells.