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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:

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Solving the EV charging challenge: A how-to guide for regulators

By Larissa Koehler and Pamela MacDougall

We are at a pivotal moment in the electric vehicle revolution. Demand for electric cars outpaced their fossil fuel alternatives in the United States, Europe and China last year. And, demand for electric trucks and buses could jump tenfold over the next decade as interest among business and government surges.

Yet the complexities around charging still remain a major barrier to wide-scale adoption.

While state and federal legislators are setting ambitious goals for the electrification of vehicles, utility regulators across the country are the ones untangling many of the (literal) wires of how to achieve these targets. Via utility commission proceedings to consider aspects of vehicle electrification, utility plans to electrify vehicles, and stakeholder working groups, regulators are increasingly being tasked with figuring out how to integrate the tsunami of EVs plugging into the grid.

A new report from EDF, Accelerating Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: A How-to Guide for Regulators, offers guideposts for policymakers as they navigate this unprecedented transition in a way that’s clean, equitable, reliable and cost-effective.

A few highlights include:

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Smart charging should be integral part of a national EV charging network

Electric trucks are coming, and they’re coming fast. Just before 2021 drew to a close, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts joined California, Oregon and Washington to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks with the adoption of the Advanced Clean Truck program. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, securing up to $67 billion in direct investment in zero-emission trucks and buses, as well as several critical tax credits to support the purchase and production of zero-emission trucks. And more than 150 truck fleets are either operating zero-emission trucks or have trucks on order.

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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.”

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New York should accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks

On the heels of COP26, Governor Hochul has made it clear that New Yorkers must work together to tackle climate change in the state. And New York is taking steps to prioritize climate and clean air. Back in September, the Department of Environmental Conservation introduced the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which requires manufacturers to produce and sell a percentage of new electric trucks annually through 2035.  Since the process began, there has been a 60-day public comment period, during which Environmental Defense Fund provided testimony at a public hearing and submitted joint comments with key stakeholders.

The ACT is a critical first step toward eliminating tailpipe emissions from new trucks and making the air cleaner and more breathable in neighborhoods across the state. But it is not — nor should it be — the sole means to mobilize the market for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and reduce pollution.  A variety of complementary policies must be put in place to allow for a cost-effective, equitable and sustainable transition to clean vehicles.

New York needs zero-emission trucks

Transportation is a leading source of air pollution in New York, accounting for 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions across the state. And while trucks only make up 5% of the state’s 10.6 million registered vehicles, the emissions produced from this sector are disproportionate to the population. Read More »

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Chip shortage highlights the need for coordinated federal, state policy on zero-emission vehicles

By Casey Horan

Recently, a friend sought my help in finding a zero-emission upgrade for his old gas-guzzler. Incentivized by increased cost-competitiveness and a desire to be more environmentally conscious, he was eager to see the new zero-emission vehicle models. To our dismay, dealer after dealer informed us that, not only was the supply for all new ZEVs backed up for months, but prices had increased significantly. Why? Every dealer cited supply chain issues.

A global shortage of chips — tiny semiconductors that make all our electronics work — has forced automakers to delay or halt production for all new vehicles, including ZEVs. While this specific disruption will not impact the long-term market adoption of ZEVs, it does underscore the need to boost domestic manufacturing. The U.S. must not allow an overreliance on foreign suppliers for ZEV components to impede our ability to meet transportation electrification targets, including for medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs, which are a critical part of plans to reduce emissions and address public health and equity concerns across the nation.

To prevent further market instability and delay, Congress should pass the Build Back Better Act and states must implement coordinated policies to encourage investment in domestic supply of essential ZEV parts.

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