California’s 2024 Zero-Emission Rule Fuels Diesel Truck Sales
As California prepares to enforce a new emissions regulation starting in 2024, many logistics firms are adding diesel trucks to their fleets. The state’s forthcoming mandate requires that all new trucks serving its ports must be zero-emission. Businesses are choosing to invest now in diesel trucks to avoid future complications, such as higher costs and limited availability of electric trucks and charging stations.
“Opting for diesel trucks now is financially sensible, compared to the higher costs we’ll incur once the new rule comes into effect,” says a logistics executive.
Diesel trucks’ days are numbered in California as the state plans to completely phase them out by 2035. This regulation is part of a broader effort to minimize carbon emissions statewide. 30,000 diesel big rigs currently serve the state’s ports.
Companies across various industries are finding the new regulation challenging. Despite grants from the state to encourage the purchase of zero-emission trucks, their steep prices and limited production make them an impractical option for many.
Trucking executives say the state’s regulators are too far ahead of the industry’s ability to deliver zero-emission trucks. The struggles in making the transition to zero emission vehicles reflects the challenges local and federal authorities face as they try to push the heavily-polluting trucking industry toward cleaner fuels.
The technology is still nascent, industry executives say, and zero-emission trucks are triple the cost of diesel trucks. Furthermore, charging stations needed to charge the rigs are in limited supply.
In California, state officials and regulators are trying to kickstart a market for zero-emission vehicles by mandating their use in state-regulated areas. Regulators hope the mandate expands the market for suppliers of charging infrastructure.
Truck recalls due to defective parts add another layer of complication. This summer, Nikola and Volvo Trucks North America recalled their trucks because of defective parts that potentially posed a fire risk.
If a diesel truck requires repairs, it’s typically back in service within a few days. In contrast, recalls can leave a pricey electric truck out of commission for weeks, which translate into an expensive asset that is not generating revenue for the trucking company.
“Part of being the first to market with Class 8 electric trucks is being the first to face some of these issues, as this is a new technology for the heavy-duty truck market,” said Volvo Trucks North America spokesman, John Mies. He added that the company does everything it can to minimize customer downtime.
Battery-powered trucks have dominated the zero-emission landscape so far. However, some logistics firms are eyeing hydrogen-fueled trucks, which have quicker refueling times and longer ranges, although the technology is still in its infancy.
“As a business, we’re purchasing diesel trucks now to secure our operations over the next several years as we explore greener alternatives,” added a trucking company executive.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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