California: Green light for combustion engine phase-out

California is getting serious and banning the sale of new trucks with combustion engines from 2036. This is provided for in the “Advanced Clean Fleets” regulation now passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

On Friday, CARB voted unanimously to ban the sale of new large diesel trucks, vans and rubbish trucks by 2036 and to require large fleets to become 100 per cent emission-free by 2045. The new regulation complements the “Advanced Clean Trucks” regulation launched in 2020, requiring manufacturers to gradually increase electric truck sales. The US state had only recently received the green light for this.

“The Advanced Clean Fleets rule is a reasonable and innovative approach to clean up the vehicles on our roads and ensure that Californians have the clean air that they want and deserve,” says CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “At the same time, this rule provides manufacturers, truck owners and fueling providers the assurance that there will be a market and the demand for zero-emissions vehicles, while providing a flexible path to making the transition toward clean air.”

Under the new rules, parcel delivery services, government-run postal services and state and local government fleets, for example, will have to switch to zero-emission vehicles from next year. However, existing vehicles can be operated until the end of their useful life. Because of the impact of truck traffic on residents living near busy roads, trucks used to transport freight over short and medium distances must be zero-emission by 2035, according to the new rule.

According to CARB, fleet operators should be able to save a total of 48 billion euros in operating costs by 2050. The health sector would also benefit: CARB expects savings of around 27 billion dollars.

The exemption for California could have effects beyond the state’s borders. Six other states – namely New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont – which, together with California, account for about 20 per cent of heavy-duty vehicle sales nationwide, have already committed to follow California’s stricter standards. They could only implement their plans once the EPA granted California the exemption mentioned earlier. It is still unclear when the states will adopt similar regulations.


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