California state has long been known as the most aggressive area in the nation in leading technology. For the automotive industry, that technology is often driven to reduce harmful environmental emissions as well as noise pollution. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), issued new rules for the state mandating medium and heavy-duty truck manufacturers begin selling electric models by 2024.

The state rule is a first worldwide and requires that truck manufactures start the process of transitioning to zero-emission units by 2024. Long-term, the goal is for all trucks sold in California to be emissions-free by 2045.

California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld, stated in the press release, “California is an innovation juggernaut that is going electric. We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel.”

CARB also recognized that many of the neighborhoods near high-traffic heavy-duty vehicle corridors are low-income or vulnerable groups. These areas experience disproportionate levels of exposure to ‘dirty air’.CARB

“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 Environmental Effect of the Rule

The Advanced Clean Truck rule notes that the largest single segment of polluters are trucks, particularly long-haul and ‘last-mile’ trucks. According to CARB, these vehicles are responsible for 70 percent of smog-causing pollution and 80 percent of cancer-causing soot. By shifting to electric energy over the next 25 years, it’s estimated that related deaths will be lowered by 1,000 in California.

In combination with this rule, additional limits on nitrogen oxides are coming in the next few months. It will require strict emissions controls for trucks to comply with NOx emissions standards.

Why It Matters to Auto Retail

For the automotive industry, the Advanced Clean Truck act doesn’t have any direct impact. However, future trends in the automotive industry consistently follow what happens in California. While the Golden State is often years ahead, the rest of the nation eventually follows suit. For this rule, other industries will also follow suit.

ACT further emphasizes California’s commitment to zero-emissions vehicles at all levels, including passenger cars and light trucks. Executive Order B-48-18 in California was signed in January 2018 and affirm’s the state’s goal is 5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2030. That equates to one in three vehicles powered by electric energy or another alternate form of clean energy within ten years on California roads.

What this means for dealerships is more in education for sales personnel and service technicians than anything. For salespeople, understanding the trends and knowing why engine displacements are getting smaller while adding turbochargers, hybrid-electric powertrains, and fully electric powertrains can help connect a customer with a brand’s values. For service, technicians will need to study up on the new technologies and become certified to service electric vehicles.

It’s still not a common-held belief that the industry will eventually convert to electric. Tesla, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Volvo, Volkswagen, Rivian, and many other companies have multi-billion-dollar investments into electrification, thus it’s reasonable to expect EVs to become mainstream and further legislated. No immediate action is necessary by dealers on this new rule for trucks, but there could be something coming, whether in California or federally, in the future.


Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

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