By Ellsworth Dickson
Sacramento – On June 25, California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) voted unanimously to adopt a new Advanced Clean Trucks regulation – the first in the U.S. – that requires everything from small delivery vans to shuttle busses to semi-tractor trailers to eliminate diesel fuel and switch to battery electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The new law will take place in stages starting in 2024. Truck manufacturers will need to build and sell an increasing percentage of electric vehicles annually between 2024 and 2035. This represents a significant change as a total of 40% of box and dump truck sales would have to be emission-free by 2035.
According to the ARB, these new electric vehicle sales targets are needed to help California meet its emission objectives, namely, a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases and a 50% decrease in petroleum usage within 10 years compared to 1990 levels.
In California, transportation is responsible for over 50% of its greenhouse gas emissions with trucks accounting for 12% of total climate changing emissions. Currently, only 1,500 of the 1.5 million medium- and heavy-duty trucks in California are electric powered.
By 2035, there will be 1.9 million trucks on California roads, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Under the new clean truck rule, about 300,000 of those – 15% – would be electric.
It is expected that truck buyers will look favorably upon battery-powered vehicles by 2024 as costs continue to drop.
Several electric truck manufacturers are gearing up for the future, including Los Angeles-based Xos Trucks which manufactures semi-tractors as well as cargo delivery vans. Tesla is also developing a semi that is expected to cost about US$180,000 for the 300-mile range model and $180,000 for a 500-mile range truck – still more expensive than diesel at this time.
UPS wants to go electric and to date about a thousand of its 125,000 vehicles globally are electric.
In addition, the Nikola Two semi is an electric truck that runs on hydrogen gas.
The electric Ford F-150 pickup truck will possibly debut in 2021 and the company is also planning electric SUVs. Over at GM, they recently announced that Chevy will launch an all-electric pickup truck by 2025 as well as an electric GMC Hummer.
Not to be left out, Fiat Chrysler says it will build electric Jeeps and Ram pickup trucks.
Not counting the planned trucks noted above or hybrids, there are over 40 electric vehicles and motorcycles on the market. In total, this represents a virtually unlimited global demand for battery minerals, including lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, graphite and copper, as more jurisdictions switch to electric vehicles.