Starting January 1, new restrictions on diesel trucks will be implemented in California, leading to a rush to purchase new diesel rigs before the deadline. California’s Zero-Emissions Rule aims to phase out the use of diesel trucks by 2035, which is presenting a significant challenge for truckers across the state. The regulation is seen by trucking executives as being ahead of the industry’s ability to deliver zero-emission rigs.
Industry professionals argue that the technology behind electric vehicles is still in development, and the cost of zero-emission trucks is three times higher than that of diesel trucks. Additionally, there is a limited supply of electric vehicles and charging stations. Given these factors, truckers in California are doing everything they can to acquire as many pre-mandate diesel trucks as possible.
The current supply of zero-emission trucks in service at the Southern California ports is less than 150, as the production of these vehicles is extremely limited. Furthermore, the most advanced electric trucks can only travel a few hundred miles between charges, making them suitable for short trips between ports and nearby locations. On top of these challenges, electric trucks have faced recalls due to defective parts that pose a fire risk, causing significant downtime and financial losses for trucking companies.
However, on July 6, California and major truck manufacturers reached a deal to avoid a legal battle over the state’s mandate. The Air Resources Board agreed to relax some near-term emission-reduction requirements to align with new federal standards. Manufacturers such as Cummins, Daimler Truck North America, Volvo Group North America, and Navistar signed on to the deal. While this agreement may benefit manufacturers, it does not address the concerns of small independent truckers who may struggle to afford the higher costs associated with zero-emission trucks.
California’s ability to implement stricter air regulations than the federal government is due to the state’s special powers granted by decades-old federal permissions. These permissions allow California to make tougher rules for tailpipe emissions than the rest of the country. However, California still needs to seek a waiver from the EPA whenever it wants to make new rules or change existing ones. Obama supported California in disputes over these waivers, Trump reversed the decision, and Biden promptly reversed it again. The author suggests that this ongoing back-and-forth should be settled by the Supreme Court.
The author expresses concern about the significant cost increase brought about by the switch to zero-emission trucks, especially given the lack of infrastructure to support these vehicles. While the manufacturers and the state may have made a deal, independent truckers, who were not part of the discussion, may find it difficult to bear these additional costs. The author proposes that truckers respond by refusing to make deliveries in California as a form of protest.
In conclusion, the implementation of new restrictions on diesel trucks in California has led to a rush to purchase pre-mandate diesel rigs. The transition to zero-emission trucks has its challenges, such as limited supply, high costs, and defective parts. While a deal has been reached between California and major manufacturers, independent truckers may face financial difficulties as a result. It remains to be seen how the trucking industry will adapt to these changes and whether there will be a backlash against the regulations and their associated costs.