California issues world’s first mandate to end combustion truck sales by 2035

Such vehicles are responsible for 25% of the state's on-road greenhouse gas emissions.
Jijo Malayil
The end is near for ICE trucks in California
The end is near for ICE trucks in California


In a bid to accelerate its net-zero commitments, California has set an ambitious goal to completely ban the sale of all internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks. The state has approved a rule (Advanced Clean Fleets) that mandates that all medium and heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state from 2036 be free of emittance. The development comes shortly after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a resolution aimed at reducing emissions related to locomotives. 

Transportation is responsible for the largest portion of California's greenhouse gas emissions, with heavy-duty trucks accounting for a significant portion. According to data by CARB, even though trucks only account for 6% of the total vehicles on state roads, their emissions result in 35% of California's transportation-generated nitrogen oxide emissions and 25% of on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

"With these actions requiring all new heavy-duty truck sales to be zero emission and tackling train pollution in our state, we’re one step closer to achieving healthier neighborhoods and cleaner air for all Californians," said Gavin Newsom, the state's governor in a statement.

A challenging yet necessary transition at hand

The new regulations will apply to all classes of heavy-duty trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The rule mandates last-mile delivery and yard trucks to transition by 2035, work trucks and day cab tractors by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles by 2042. Manufacturers will be required to transition to zero-emission vehicles, such as battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell trucks, in order to continue selling in California.

According to CARB, incoming regulations will generate "$26.6 billion in health savings from reduced asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and respiratory illnesses." In addition, fleet owners will save an estimated $48 billion in their total operating costs from the transition through 2050.

The board estimates its new initiatives will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million metric tons by 2040, "equivalent to taking 4 million passenger cars off the road." Environmental benefits aside, the transition is expected to create new jobs and support local economies. An analysis of potential demand pegs the number of trucks on California roads at 1.7 million by 2050.

The state is set to invest about $3 billion between 2021 – 2025 in zero-emission trucks and infrastructure. "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.”

Even though the plan may seem ambitious, there's no doubt that the transition to zero-emission vehicles will accelerate, with other states and countries following California's lead, ultimately leading to a cleaner, more sustainable future.

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