California Air Resources Board Moves to Ban High-Polluting Diesel Trucks by 2040

New big rigs and other trucks will have to be zero-emissions in 2040 — ending their decades-long reliance on high-polluting diesel — under a proposed regulation unveiled by the California Air Resources Board. 

Under the proposal, manufacturers couldn’t sell new medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks fueled by diesel or gasoline that operate in California, instead turning to electric models. In addition, large trucking companies would have to gradually convert their existing fleets to zero-emission vehicles, buying more over time until all are zero emissions by 2042.

The new truck mandate is “really a critical piece of the state’s climate and clean air objectives,” said Patricio Portillo, a clean transportation advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A common sight on California’s highways are trucks clogging lanes, blowing thick smoke into the sky while overheated trucks rest at the side. It’s so normal that we stop thinking about it, but that exhaust permeating the air harms our lungs and bodies.” 

California has been ratcheting down emissions from diesel-powered trucks and buses for decades in an effort to combat the state’s severe air pollution. The new proposal builds on a clean trucks regulation passed in 2020, which gradually increases the number of zero-emission trucks that manufacturers must sell, starting in 2024. 

Some manufacturers have already announced plans to ramp up sales of electric truck fleets. Tesla plans to roll out electric semi trucks with 500 miles of range later this year, while Volvo Trucks and Nikola Inc. have launched electric big-rigs and other models with ranges of up to 350 miles. Volvo Trucks this year set a global goal that half of its truck sales would be electric by 2030. 

“We are determined to lead the transformation of the transport industry,” Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks, said in a statement. “The interest among customers is high and it’s quickly becoming a competitive advantage for transporters to be able to offer electric, sustainable transports.” 

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