If you are a medium to large company, have over fifty trucks, or transport a lot of goods in California, zero emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations are coming your way. Consistent with requests from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) when it passed the Advanced Clean Trucks rule last year, CARB is moving forward with development of an Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rulemaking. ACF proposes to create a gradually increasing zero emission vehicle (ZEV) requirement for all public, private, and federal fleets, as well as all drayage trucks that operate in California. These regulations are designed to be consistent with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20, which requires 100% sales of passenger cars and trucks and drayage trucks by 2035, for medium- and heavy-duty by 2045 where feasible.
CARB released the draft regulation early to allow for initial informal public comment and is planning to hold multiple workshops. CARB originally planned to present this regulation to the board this fall but has pushed the rule out until next year. However, informal comments early will be helpful in working out some of the challenges in the bill. CARB is asking for informal comments by September 27 and has opened an informal comment docket for the regulation. A brief summary of the requirements and issues that could arise in the rulemaking proceeding are outlined below.
CARB proposes that drayage trucks (those operated at California seaports and intermodal railyards), including drayage motor carriers, marine or seaport terminals, intermodal railyards, and seaport authorities) begin a ZEV phase-in starting November 1, 2023. Drayage trucks registering for the first time after that date in the Drayage Truck Registry must be zero emissions. Existing vehicles will be phased out consistent with the requirements in SB 1 (Beall, 2017), allowing those vehicles to continue operating for 13 years from the model year or the earlier of 18 years/800,000 miles from the original engine/emissions control was certified. Beginning in 2035, all drayage trucks must be zero emissions.
The High Priority and Federal Fleet Requirements section of the rule will apply to all entities that either generate more than $50 million in gross annual (US-wide) revenue or owns/controls more than 50 trucks, is a broker that owns, operates, or dispatches more than 50 trucks, or a federal agency that has one or more trucks in California. Vehicles in this category must meet the following timeline:
Starting January 1, 2024, 50% of any new trucks purchased by California public agencies (local or state) must be ZEVs. This would increase to 100% starting January 1, 2027. For entities in a designated low population county (listed in the regulation), the 50% requirement does not apply, and instead these entities must only meet the 100% by 2027 requirement.
Very few exemptions are contemplated by the rule. Essentially, if a ZEV version of the body type of the vehicle you are intending to purchase is offered for sale, the regulation applies. Notable exemptions include the SB-1 useful life/mileage noted above, emergency vehicles, vehicles awaiting sales (at dealerships, for example), and some vehicle types subject to other clean vehicle regulations (see § 95692(c) for more details).
Fleets can also obtain individual exemptions where a vehicle is designated as a backup vehicle (1000 mile per year limit), where all available ZEVs and near zero vehicles (NZEVs) cannot meet daily mileage needs (with stringent bidding and reporting requirements).
Emergency vehicles are also exempted but is limited to utility/water/wastewater services, requires a demonstration that no NZEVs are available, that more than 75% of the fleet is already ZEVs, where publicly accessible charging or hydrogen fueling or mobile fueling options are not readily available in the areas to be served in an emergency, and where stringent reporting requirements are met.
Major issues raised by commenters including the process by which fleet owners can obtain an exemption (currently on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis), the broad definition of “common ownership and control,” which could make entities responsible for their contractors’ fleets, and no provision for exemptions where charging/hydrogen fueling infrastructure is unavailable.
Another major issue was the lumping together of timelines by body type, rather than duty cycle. For example, some fleets operate 24/7, and would thus require multiple vehicles to comply with the rule, accounting for charging time.
Entities also raised the lack of provision of credits for NZEVs already purchased/already in production and available for purchase by entities, which also reduce emissions—a major goal of the rulemaking.
CalChamber and several other entities are engaging with CARB to push for resolution of these issues before the formal rulemaking period next year.