This week, all eyes are on zero-emission trucks. It’s time for policymakers to go bold.

As leaders from government, business and tech meet this week at CERA Week, The Work Truck Show and the ATA Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting, the growing availability of zero-emission trucks will be center stage.

The last five years have seen tremendous progress in the availability of and fleet interest in large, zero-emission vehicles. This electric truck revolution is being spurred by growing private sector investment, rapidly maturing technology and clear government leadership. As a result, these trucks are moving from the showroom floor to highways and local streets across North America.

Among the many signs of progress are:

  •  There are over 145 different zero-emission truck models available today. That’s a 625% increase since 2019.
  • Over 170 truck fleets are operating or have orders in place for zero-emission trucks, according to EDF analysis. This is in addition to the scores of electric transit and school bus fleets across America.
  • Truck manufacturers are investing billions to meet the growing demand for zero-emission vehicles. In the most recent example, truck engine maker Cummins announced it would acquire Meritor for a price tag of $2.58 billion to beef up its electric and hybrid vehicle parts offerings. While Ford recently announced plans to split the company’s internal combustion and EV businesses into separate entities. As the biggest manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the country, Ford’s move signals to investors and buyers that the company is “going on all in” on EVs, as Ford CEO Jim Farley explained.

This progress is great news for people and the planet. Despite making up only about 4% of vehicles on the road, the buses, work trucks and tractor trailers that distribute people and goods are the largest contributor among all highway vehicles to nitrogen oxide emissions and health harming fine particulates. Trucks are also a leading source of climate pollution in the U.S.

This week, all eyes are on zero-emission trucks. It’s time for policymakers to go bold. Click To Tweet

The smog-forming NOx and fine particulate pollution from trucks and buses cause adverse health impacts in utero, in infants and children, and in adults and the elderly – with those who live closest to our nation’s roads and highways, ports, distribution centers, freight depots and other sources of truck pollution facing the greatest harm. More than 20,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of pollution from highway vehicles.

While the momentum toward a zero-emission future is gaining speed, we still have a long way to go — and we don’t have time to waste. To accelerate this transition and ensure we are maximizing the health, climate and economic benefits of the EV revolution, we need:

  1. Long-term emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles: To provide market certainty for future investments in zero-emission trucks, we need rigorous, long-term multi-pollutant emission standards that achieve 100% sales of new zero-emission trucks and buses. The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed new standards for harmful air pollution from freight trucks and buses starting with model year 2027. These new standards do not yet ensure levels of zero-emission vehicle deployment that are feasible and needed, and therefore must be strengthened. A recent EDF study found that zero-emitting solutions are available and can help save truckers and fleets money. It adds to the large body of evidence documenting the feasibility of deploying zero-emitting solutions — including actions by states across the country and leading fleets.
  2. Clean, affordable charging infrastructure: Complexities around charging still remain a significant barrier to wide-scale EV adoption, and this is especially true for trucks. The recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains $5 billion for charging infrastructure. States need to leverage this investment and develop infrastructure programs that reflect the unique needs of electric trucks.
  3. An equity-centered approach to deployment: Communities of color and disadvantaged populations make up a higher percentage of people living near highways, distribution centers and ports, meaning they shoulder the greatest health burden from vehicle pollution. Therefore, deployment of charging stations and zero-emission trucks should be prioritized in low-income, pollution-burdened communities first, where the air quality benefits of zero-emission technologies are needed most.

Electric trucks are ready to play an important role in the nation’s transition to a zero-emission future. At this week’s conferences, we’ll see this on full display via new product launches, corporate commitments and dynamic discussions among industry leaders. How fast and how far we go in this critical decade before us will depend greatly on whether we make policy choices that reward bold private-sector leadership and match the need to accelerate these pollution-cutting technologies.

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