Electric Trucks and Buses Can Reduce Pollution and Create Job Opportunities

New Report Details Public Health and Economic Benefits of Cleaner Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Published Oct 26, 2016 Updated Aug 21, 2019

Oakland, Calif. (Oct. 26, 2016)— California’s emerging market for electric buses and trucks provides a significant opportunity to improve public health in communities most affected by traffic-related pollution and bring jobs to people who need them most, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Greenlining Institute.

The report, “Delivering Opportunity: How Electric Buses and Trucks Can Create Jobs and Improve Public Health in California,” examines the state of electric vehicle technology and its potential for reducing pollution from heavy-duty vehicles while creating job opportunities for underserved communities. With the right policies and investments to speed the conversion of trucks and buses to electric power, the report concludes that California can clean its air, cut global warming emissions, and create a more equitable economy.

“Advances in technology are making it possible to expand the market for electric heavy-duty vehicles,” said report co-author Jimmy O’Dea, a UCS vehicles analyst. “With transportation the biggest source of pollution in California, reducing harmful tailpipe emissions from diesel trucks and buses should be the next frontier in fighting pollution and climate change.”

Powering heavy-duty vehicles with electricity will improve air quality and public health, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that bear the greatest burdens of traffic-related pollution in California, according to the report. The emerging industry also has the potential to produce well-paid manufacturing jobs.

“Electric trucks and buses – their manufacture as well as their maintenance – can be a great source of jobs for those left out of the economic recovery,” said report co-author Joel Espino, legal counsel for environmental equity at the Greenlining Institute. “But it won’t happen automatically. We need to create effective training programs, particularly ones that focus on electrical skills, to improve access to jobs in this emerging sector for low-skilled workers.”

Other findings of the report include:

  • Heavy-duty vehicles are the single largest source of smog-producing nitrogen oxides in California and produce more particulate matter than all of the state’s power plants combined. These vehicles also account for 7 percent of California’s global warming emissions – an amount projected to increase as freight shipments grow.
  • Electric-powered heavy-duty vehicles are up to four times as energy efficient as diesel and natural gas engines, while being quieter and boasting similar if not better acceleration times and ability to climb hills.
  • Ranges of over 100 miles per charge, and charging and refueling times under 20 minutes have been made possible by today’s battery and fuel cell technologies.
  • Some leading electric bus and truck manufacturers in California pay assemblers $13 to $20 per hour to start, higher than the overall median pay for assemblers in California, which ranges from $12.60 to $14.37 per hour.
  • Leading electric bus and truck companies in California typically require 1-3 years of related experience for assemblers, a higher standard than general manufacturing assembler jobs. This restricts entry for low-skilled workers from underserved communities, but effective hiring and job training programs (currently lacking in this emerging field) could overcome that barrier.

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. Because people of color will be the majority of our population by 2044, America will prosper only if communities of color prosper. Greenlining advances economic opportunity and empowerment for people of color through advocacy, community and coalition building, research, and leadership development.  For more information, go to: www.greenlining.org