US funding for electric heavy-duty vehicles and buses

The US government has launched a grant scheme called the 'Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program', amounting to almost one billion dollars for the transition off polluting fuels for heavy-duty vehicles and school buses. The new grant program will support the procurement and operation of these vehicles, as well as the necessary charging infrastructure and operator training.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects that around 70 per cent of the available budget of the 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program will go towards school buses with the School Bus Sub-Program. The remainder will go towards Class 6 and 7 heavy-duty electric commercial vehicles with the Vocational Vehicles Sub-Program. This includes box trucks, refuse haulers, dump trucks, street sweepers, delivery trucks, bucket trucks, and utility trucks.

“EPA’s Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program will slash climate and air pollution and enhance the country’s infrastructure by funding the deployment of zero-emissions vehicles and installation of supporting infrastructure,” said EPA Director Michael S. Regan.

Funded through the Inflation Reduction Act as part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America program, the EPA will award “competitive” grants for projects that reduce climate and air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles. The Biden-Harris government says the scheme will also support “good-paying jobs and improve air quality for communities across the country, especially those that are overburdened by air pollution”.

John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy, noted, “In addition to all the progress we’re making to electrify light-duty vehicles, today’s funding from the EPA will catalyze projects that bring electric school buses, garbage trucks, and delivery vans to neighbourhoods across America—reducing pollution in our communities and creating good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

Many commercial vehicles in the United States are already getting on in years. There are currently more than three million Class 6 and 7 vehicles in use in the USA, covering a wide range of vehicle types and applications, including school buses, refuse collection vehicles and utility and delivery vehicles. Some of these vehicles, most of which are still combustion engines running on fossil fuels, are now to be replaced through the funding program.

Most vehicles eligible for replacement are powered by internal combustion engines developed before the EPA’s latest emissions standards. These are being particularly targeted because they emit more harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter as well as greenhouse gases. In mentioning these elements, the US government highlighted the negative health effects of these noxious gases in terms of heart and lung diseases, among other ailments.

The application deadline for the grant program is July 25, 2024, and grant recipients are expected to be announced before the end of that year.


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