New Report Reveals California’s Zero-Emission Trucking Triumph

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 07, 2024

California has achieved a major milestone in its environmental efforts. In 2023, the state doubled the sales of new zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks compared to the previous year.

These trucks now reportedly represent one out of every six new vehicles sold, serving sectors like last-mile delivery and freight transportation.

Governor Newsom's Vision in Action

Governor Gavin Newsom praised the state’s progress, stating, “California is once again proving what can be done by turning ambition into action.”

Gavin Newsom pictures smiling in a blue suit jacket

Source: Wikimedia

“We’re achieving our goals years ahead of schedule,” he continued. “The fifth biggest economy in the world is moving away from dirty polluting big rigs and delivery fleets – cleaning our air and protecting public health.”

Surpassing Advanced Clean Trucks Goals

In 2023, California sold 18,473 medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), surpassing its Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) goal by two years and selling five times the required amount.

White semi Truck Near Pine Tress during Daytime


Since 2021, a total of 26,921 ZEVs have been sold in the state, highlighting the success of the program.

Improving Air Quality and Public Health

The increase in ZEVs is crucial for reducing pollution and improving air quality, particularly in communities near trucking corridors and warehouse locations.

An image of multiple tall industrial chimneys discharging large volumes of dense smoke into the sky at dusk

Source: Maxim Tolchinskiy/Unsplash

These areas often have some of the worst air quality in the nation due to heavy truck traffic, which disproportionately affects low-income and communities of color, according to the EPA.

Trucks and Emissions

Trucks make up only 6% of vehicles on California’s roads but are responsible for over 35% of the state’s transportation-generated nitrogen oxide emissions and a quarter of its on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

A photograph of several cars passing quickly along a multi-lane road

Source: Freepik

The adoption of ZEVs is vital for mitigating these environmental impacts.

CARB Chair Liane Randolph on the Progress

CARB Chair Liane Randolph emphasized the importance of early adoption.

Many cars driving down a Los Angeles street in the daytime.

Source: Lala Miklós/Unsplash

“California set visionary targets to move key transportation sectors toward zero-emissions technology,” Randolph stated. “And the market is stepping up to be part of the solution for cleaner air and climate action well ahead of required targets.”


Nationwide Influence

California’s regulations are setting a precedent, with ten other states adopting similar rules.

Californian flag flying above the clouds

Source: Eric Chan, Wikimedia

These states, including New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, represent over 25% of new heavy-duty vehicle registrations in the nation, amplifying the impact of California’s policies.


Future Goals for Zero-Emission Fleets

The Advanced Clean Fleets regulation mandates that all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold into California fleets must be zero-emissions by 2036.

Parked Trucks Under Clouds

Source: Kevin Bidwell/Pexels

This ambitious goal aims to introduce 1,690,000 ZEVs into California fleets by 2050, significantly reducing emissions and improving air quality.


The Clean Truck Partnership

In July 2023, CARB established the Clean Truck Partnership with leading truck and engine manufacturers.

Two Person in Long-sleeved Shirt Shakehand

Source: Cytonn Photography/Pexels

This agreement ensures that manufacturers meet California’s stringent vehicle standards and provides them with more flexibility to achieve these goals, fostering collaboration for a cleaner future.


Economic and Environmental Benefits

The transition to ZEVs not only improves air quality but also brings economic benefits.

Smoke from a wildfire engulfs the city of Alberta in Canada

Source: Wikimedia

Cleaner air can reduce healthcare costs associated with pollution-related illnesses, and the growing ZEV market creates new job opportunities in manufacturing and maintenance.


Challenges and Opportunities

While the progress is commendable, challenges remain, including the need for more charging infrastructure and continued technological advancements.

Charging station for electric cars

Source: Lisa Fotios/Pexels

However, the opportunities for innovation and environmental benefits make the pursuit of zero-emission goals worthwhile.


The Road Ahead

California’s success in promoting zero-emission trucks serves as a model for other states and countries.

A hilly street in San Francisco with cars and homes on the side of it.

Source: Antonio Gabola/Unsplash

As the state continues to lead the way in environmental policy, the future looks promising for cleaner air, healthier communities, and a more sustainable transportation system.