Hauling In California? That Rig Had Better Be Green

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hauling in california that rig had better be green

The California Air Resource Board (CARB) just passed a mandate that will require manufacturers of big rigs, heavy duty pickups, and some construction equipment to adhere to new zero-emission quotas and a carbon-credit system.

As all-electric 18-wheelers are in short supply, California wants to wait a few years to put the new rules into play. Still, it’s eager to get the ball rolling so it can start replacing diesel-driven transport with something from the battery-electric section. It also gives the state another opportunity to pat itself on the back despite not having any clue whether or not the strategy is economically sustainable. Even with battery technology moving at a fair clip, there’s a lot of engineering left to be done before these types of vehicles can become commonplace.

The energy grid needs to be bolstered to support higher loads as more EVs plug into it, requiring local storage centers and more facilities that produce power overall. Energy density is another serious issue that must be sorted out, otherwise the brunt of these vehicles’ payload will be sacrificed for gigantic battery packs. That’s to say nothing of waste management. Eventually, these colossal batteries will need to be disposed of in a way that doesn’t contaminate soil and water.

No matter, those particulars are of little concern when you’re living in the most futuristic state in the nation. “California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement following the vote.

According to Reuters, the mandate was passed unanimously by CARB and was hailed by all those voting on it “as a major step toward reducing climate-warming emissions and improving public health for low-income communities near busy highway corridors and ports.”

From Reuters:

Environmentalists say the mandate, which applies to medium-duty and large trucks, will put an estimated 300,000 zero-emission trucks on the road by 2035.

The proposed mandate is expected to start in the 2024 model year and initially require [5-9 percent] zero emission vehicles (ZEV) based on class, rising to [30-50 percent] by 2030. By 2045, all vehicles should be ZEVs “where feasible.”

The regulation would apply to pickup trucks weighing 8,500 pounds or more, but not to light-duty trucks, which are covered by separate zero emission regulations.

CARB plans a separate rule in early 2021 that will require large fleet owners to buy some ZEVs.

California has more electric vehicle startups than anywhere else in the nation, so it has probably the best chance of making something like this work. It’s also had historic smog problems in some areas, making its desire to eliminate diesel-powered vehicles a little easier to understand. That said, its leadership has clearly gone overboard with the recreational marijuana (speaking as someone who has been there, brah) because these targets look untenable — unless alien technology arrives within the next few years.

We might be able to hang in there on the HD pickup front if battery tech maintains good progress — especially since it seems that segment’s being cut a break, and mainstream manufacturers are already working on them — but the rest sounds fairly fantastical.

“For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said in a statement. “Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities. Now is the time — the technology is here and so is the need for investment.”

The California Air Resources Board has an impressively long document outlining the new regulations from a public hearing in 2019 — if you’re interested. Most of the data focuses on the environmental impact of the changes and how to implement them. We’ve only given you the broadest brush stokes here, but there are inclusions for construction equipment and the obligatory carbon credit system green manufacturers can use to make money off those producing too many diesel-burners. It does offer some flexibility to all companies, however, by allowing them to focus on electrifying one segment and and having those credits carry over to another.

[Image: D-VISIONS/Shutterstock]

Join the conversation
6 of 67 comments
  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Jun 28, 2020

    This is so typical of modern government: Do something meaningless for public relations purposes; while failing to manage the important things. In CA's case, they pass regulations like this while doing nothing to stop wild fires--a much greater source of air pollution. I lived through this in the Bay Area two years ago when wild fires made the air unbreathable for millions of people for many days. This is because PG&E is not allowed to clear the underbrush from overhead power lines lest it endanger some sort of lizard or other weird creature no one's ever heard of. I've recently said goodbye to the Golden State, and am re-locating to the Free States of America, where COVID masks are optional and there's still some semblance of competent government.

    • See 3 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jun 29, 2020

      @EBFlux- I hear that getting out there and raking the underbrush works. Go give it a try and let me know how it works.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jun 29, 2020

    Three questions: 1. How much of the nation's food supply is produced by Cali as a percentage? 2. Does Cali produce enough food to feed itself without major imports? 3. What happens to the rest of the country if Cali food is only sold locally?

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.