The US state of California has set a new rule that requires more than half of all trucks sold in the state to be electric by 2035. The mandate won approval from the Biden administration and is set to take effect next year, as reports The New York Times. Although California supported the decision in 2020, it required approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it exceeded federal standards.
The rule mandates that by 2035, 55% of delivery vans and light trucks sold in California must be fully electric. In addition, 40% of tractors and 75% of buses and large trucks must be fully electric by the same deadline.
In practice, the new rule will apply nationwide, given the size and centrality of California’s economy, which would be the fifth largest economy in the world if it were a sovereign state. It’s similar to another state ban on the sale of gas-powered cars until 2035.
However, the trucking industry has criticized the move because of its cost and infrastructure requirements. Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said drivers are skeptical of the rapid transition to electric vehicles. They doubt that the number of charging stations will be sufficient for long trips and whether batteries for electric cars will be able to withstand long distances.
In addition, electric trucks are more expensive, starting at $100,000 and ending in the six figures. Republican attorneys general from 17 states are challenging California’s ability to enact state pollution standards that are tougher than federal standards. That case, Ohio vs. E.P.A., is set to be heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later this year.
Despite the challenges, clean energy groups are optimistic. Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, said that while there are challenges to electrifying heavy-duty vehicles, government tax credits and savings from not having to buy gasoline will help cover the long-term costs.
“Companies like FedEx look at the bottom line over the total life span of a vehicle. And when they look long-term, the calculations for this become more optimistic,” Mr. Kodjak added.