The transportation industry is continually seeking ways of improving efficiency while reducing the impact on the environment. Significant trucking industry innovations have taken place in the past decade, often spurred by new regulations and government-supported initiatives. One of the initiatives driving change within the commercial trucking industry is a recent bipartisan action plan to advance market growth of zero-emissions or “clean” commercial vehicles. Industry analysts suggest that this so-called “Clean trucks agreement” will have long-ranging and positive effects on commercial trucking in the United States and abroad.
Bipartisan Agreement on Zero-Emissions Trucks
In July 2020, a group of Governors from 15 U.S. states and the Mayor of the District of Columbia worked together to promote clean commercial vehicles. Participants came from both sides of the political aisle. Together, they reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop a set of far-reaching strategies to foster the clean-energy commercial vehicle market. This market is estimated to be worth billions of dollars, and early adopters of the zero-emissions commercial trucks will gain a competitive advantage within their regions.
Formally known as the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle MOU, the strategies in the agreement include:
- Creating foundations for clean-vehicle development in states with little or no existing adoption of these technologies.
- Creating awareness among fleet owners and the general public.
- Developing financial incentives to spur adoption.
- Developing infrastructure programs, including charging stations in transportation corridors and transit hubs.
- Encouraging regulatory and oversight agencies to develop clear-cut policies that promote zero-emissions technologies.
The MOU is simply an action plan for now but is expected to drive trucking industry innovations in the recent and distant futures. As interest grows among fleet owners, innovations based on the strategies in the MOU will continue to be developed and adopted.
California Leads the Way in Emissions Standards
The largest concentration of participating Governors in the MOU came from the Northeastern United States, one of the most densely-populated areas of the country and plagued by harmful emissions from passenger and cargo vehicles.
California, however, has led the way in zero-emissions growth for many years. The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, was a signatory for the MOU. He also presided over the passage of the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, billed as the world’s most ambitious clean-trucks policy. California already has the most stringent vehicle emissions regulations in the country; the Advanced Clean Trucks rule is a logical extension of those efforts.
Under the California rule, manufacturers will be required to increase the percentage of zero-emissions trucks and tractor/trailers sold in the state over time. Sales must commence by 2024 and all new commercial trucks and vans sold in California must be certified as zero-emissions vehicles by 2045. Whenever California sets environmental standards, other states soon follow. Industry analysts expect that the new rule will drive trucking industry innovations across the country. With the MOU, the commercial trucking industry will only grow stronger in an uncertain energy future.
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