Walmart and Pepsi push for policy action on zero-emission trucking

PepsiCo and Walmart operate collectively over 18,000 freight tractors. So, when these companies make a joint statement on the future of trucking, folks pay attention.

In a blog post published earlier this week, executives from PepsiCo and Walmart noted their support for federal policy action on trucks, as well as the importance of state leadership in ushering in a zero-emission future.

The companies wrote that:

“The Biden administration rolled out an executive order to advance light-duty electrification and ‘smart fuel efficiency and performance standards’ for medium- and heavy-duty trucks… Walmart and PepsiCo are encouraged by this ambition and momentum and are ready to work with the administration, Congress, and state and local officials in shaping effective solutions that will enable a zero emissions future for fleets.”

This is a timely call for action. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering a new generation of emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the 2027-29 timeframe.

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Last week, the agency sent its proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget. It is critical that these multi-pollutant standards accelerate truck and bus electrification in the 2027-2029 timeframe. EDF has recently released analysis from MJ Bradley and Associates demonstrating that, in this time frame, there are numerous vehicle applications poised for a transition to zero, including school and transit buses, last-mile delivery vehicles and many others. These vehicles often operate in urban and community settings, so deploying zero-emitting solutions will have important health and climate benefits.

Recent analysis shows that eliminating pollution from all new freight trucks and buses no later than 2040 — and from freight trucks and buses used in urban and community areas no later than 2035 — would prevent 57,000 premature deaths and eliminate more than 4.7 billion metric tons of climate pollution by 2050.

The companies also highlighted the importance federal investments, noting that the “recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides a transformative foundation for developing and investing in national EV and alternative fueling infrastructure and corridors.” The infrastructure bill – and the Build Back Better Act currently under consideration in the Senate – contain key provisions that support the move to zero-emission trucks and buses.

The importance of state action was highlighted in the statement from Pepsico and Walmart, too. Of course, we are seeing many states step up their focus on truck electrification, including their participation in the multi-state collaborative working on a pathway to 100% zero-emission trucks within their states.

Both PepsiCo and Walmart have a history of supporting policies that reduce emissions from trucks. In 2015, Walmart submitted comments urging the EPA to adopt strong rules that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks. PepsiCo also supported the call for new heavy-duty truck emission standards at that time.

But having the first and third largest private trucking fleets in the U.S. call for policy action that will drive fleet electrification makes clear that the industry’s long-term path forward is focused on zero-emission vehicles. The actions of the second largest fleet, though, confirm that zero-emission trucks are ready to drive emission reductions now.

Sysco –which operates nearly 9,000 freight tractors – made an important commitment just last week to electrify 35% of the trucks in its fleet by 2030. It made this announcement after a recent pilot “showed the vehicle can successfully be used as a regional hauler and that the EV can serve most of our routes on a single charge while carrying payloads to a max gross combined weight of 82,000 pounds.”

The excitement that the top three largest private freight tractor fleets have for zero-emission trucks is shared by many across the industry. Over 150 truck fleets are either operating zero-emission trucks or have trucks on order. Hopefully many of these fleets will join with their peers to urge policymaker action to accelerate the transition and make clear, time-bound commitments for transitioning their trucks to zero-emission vehicles.

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