Even With OEM Compromise, Some in Trucking Industry Continue ACF Opposition

July 19, 2023

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Even With OEM Compromise, Some in Trucking Industry Continue ACF Opposition

Since its inception, the Advanced Clean Fleet Rule (ACF) has turned enough heads to cause whiplash among many fleets that operate in California. Touted by some as one of the most ambitious regulatory programs in the history of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), ACF aims to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, including all vehicles over 8,500 lbs. that operate within the Golden State.

After filing a suit against CARB last July and then withdrawing it two months later, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) has changed its position on the matter. The group, along with Cummins, Daimler Truck North America, Ford, General Motors, Hino, Isuzu, Navistar, PACCAR, Stellantis N.V., and Volvo Group North America, recently entered into an agreement with CARB with the intention of helping fleets with the transition to the cleaner vehicle technologies mandated by ACF.

The Clean Truck Partnership, as it has been named, is aimed at guiding fleets as they look to procure vehicles  for the 2024-2026 model years. Among several provisions within the agreement, the Partnership allows manufacturers to a reasonable number of traditional diesel- and natural gas-fueled vehicles, while also producing newer zero-emission vehicles with battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered engines. This helps ensure the available inventory of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will be able to meet the needs of fleets over the next 3 years, including the upcoming ACF mandates.

While it took the group a little more than three months to reach an agreement, officials are already proclaiming this to be a step in the right direction, including California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“California has shown the world what real climate action looks like, and we’re raising the bar yet again. Today, truck manufacturers join our urgent efforts to slash air pollution, showing the rest of the country that we can both cut dangerous pollution and build the economy of the future,” said Gov. Newsom in a recent statement.

EMA chimed in as well, with President Jed Mandel stating that the agreement “reaffirms EMA’s and its members’ longstanding commitment to reducing emissions and to a zero-emissions commercial vehicle future and it demonstrates how EMA and CARB can work together to achieve shared clean air goals.”

“Through this agreement, we have aligned on a single nationwide nitrogen oxide emissions standard, secured needed lead time and stability for manufacturers, and agreed on regulatory changes that will ensure continued availability of commercial vehicles. We look forward to continuing to work constructively with CARB on future regulatory and infrastructure efforts designed to support a successful transition to ZEVs,” added Mandel.

But not all groups within the industry have been as accepting. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) quickly sounded the alarm one ACF was adopted in April, stating that the rule is not taking into account that these zero-emission trucks are still in their early stages and there is a lack of infrastructure throughout the country to support them.

Calling CARB an “an unelected Board in California,” Spear said that this would “force trucking companies to buy zero-emission trucks,” adding, “Fleets are just beginning to understand what it takes to successfully operate these trucks, but what they have learned so far is they are significantly more expensive, charging and refueling infrastructure is nonexistent, and ZEVs are not necessarily a one-for-one replacement — meaning more trucks will be needed on California roads to move the same amount of freight.”

Spear also called the targets and timelines unrealistic and unachievable timelines, while saying that they could also lead to higher costs related to the delivery of goods and services that the trucking industry supports.

The ATA’s concerns were trumpeted in joint comments sent to CARB in early April by the ATA and the California Trucking Association. The duo summed up their objections in in three main points, stating that the ACF:

  • Requires fleets to deploy zero-emission vehicles in circumstances that are not prepared to transition as quickly as mandated;
  • Directs charging/fueling infrastructure to be developed more quickly than is possible; and
  • Creates exemptions that are inadequate for many fleets that do business within the state of California.

As stated by GNA’s Director of Compliance Sean Cocca in a recent webinar, ACF is here. It is up to fleets, the agencies that regulate them, and the OEMs and solution providers that support them to make this transition as seamless as possible, while still sustaining an efficient and streamlined supply chain along the way.