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California, engine manufacturers enter Clean Truck Partnership to meet emissions goals

July 7, 2023
The California Air Resources Board has entered an agreement for the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association and major OEMs to meet the regulatory agency's emissions requirements—even if another organization decides to challenge those regulations.

The California Air Resources Board, Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, and other manufacturers have entered into a Clean Truck Partnership to advance the development of zero-emission vehicles. A statement from CARB says the partnership includes flexibility for manufacturers to meet the state's emissions requirements, which many trucking stakeholders have criticized as unrealistically stringent.

The partnership marks a commitment from manufacturers to meet California standards that will require zero-emission technology, regardless of whether any other entity challenges the state's authority to set stricter standards under the federal Clean Air Act. Additionally, CARB will align with EPA's 2027 regulations for nitrogen oxide emissions and has agreed to support the development of needed ZEV infrastructure.

The Clean Truck Partnership comes as the Golden State prepares for a mandated 100% transition to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles under CARB's Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets rule by 2045. In March, under the Biden administration, the EPA granted California two Clean Air Act waivers allowing it to mandate that half of all new heavy-duty vehicles sold by 2035 will be electric .

"The unprecedented collaboration between California regulators and truck manufacturers marks a new era in our zero-emission future, where we work together to address the needs of both the trucking industry and the Californians who deserve to breathe clean air," said Liane Randolph, CARB chairperson. "This agreement makes it clear that we have shared goals to tackle pollution and climate change and to ensure the success of the truck owners and operators who provide critical services to California's economy."

EMA President Jed Mandel said in a statement: "This agreement reaffirms EMA's and its members' long-standing commitment to reducing emissions and to a zero-emissions commercial vehicle future, and it demonstrates how EMA and CARB can work together to achieve shared clean air goals. Through this agreement, we have aligned on a single nationwide nitrogen oxide emissions standard, secured needed lead time and stability for manufacturers, and agreed on regulatory changes that will ensure continued availability of commercial vehicles. We look forward to continuing to work constructively with CARB on future regulatory and infrastructure efforts designed to support a successful transition to ZEVs."

Signatories include Cummins, Daimler Truck North America, Ford, General Motors, Hino Motors, Isuzu, Navistar, Paccar, Stellantis, Volvo Group North America, and EMA.

Additionally, the partnership heavily restricts the legal challenges that EMA and the OEMs can bring against CARB requirements outlined in the agreement. The agreement also restricts manufacturers' ability to challenge CARB-inspired regulations in other states—such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, together representing 22% of the national truck market—which drew criticism from the American Trucking Associations.

"We've long advocated for a single, national standard that respects and preserves interstate commerce. However, the trucking industry shouldn't be strong-armed by the government into an agreement with such terms," said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "Our association represents motor carrier members—the paying customers who will inherit the costs of this agreement—and we will not roll over nor relinquish our right to litigate with any party when our interests are threatened. It is clear that America has lost its way when the government bullies the private sector to succumb to unachievable timelines, targets, and technologies."

See also: Meijer tests zero-emissions refrigerated trailer

CARB has agreed to provide at least four years of lead time and at least three years of "regulatory stability" before imposing new requirements. In May 2022, EMA sued CARB for providing insufficient time for manufacturers to comply with new regulations. The regulatory agency adopted the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation on Dec. 22, 2021, requiring compliance by Jan. 1, 2024, which EMA asserted was only two years of lead time, not the four required by the federal Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was withdrawn in August 2022.

CARB will also modify elements of the 2024 NOx emission regulations for which manufacturers will provide offsets necessary to maintain California's emission targets. Manufacturers may provide offsets by "undertaking projects targeted at California's disadvantaged communities in the same model year that they utilize the proposed legacy engine provisions."

California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote in a statement: "California has shown the world what real climate action looks like, and we're raising the bar yet again. Today, truck manufacturers join our urgent efforts to slash air pollution, showing the rest of the country that we can both cut dangerous pollution and build the economy of the future."

Truck engine manufacturers comment on CARB's Clean Truck Partnership 

Cummins: "We appreciate CARB's commitment to providing flexibilities as we transition to zero emissions and for their efforts to align with EPA's 2027 standards. We also welcome CARB's commitment to collaborate in the further development of ZEV infrastructure needed for our customers to adopt these technologies," said Shelley A. Knust, VP of product compliance and regulatory affairs for Cummins.

Daimler Truck North America: "At Daimler Truck, we continue working toward achieving our goal of offering only carbon-neutral vehicles by 2039. For the overall industry transformation to become a reality, we believe the key to success is a close collaboration with all our stakeholders," said Sean Waters, VP of product compliance and regulatory affairs for DTNA.

Ford Motor Company: "Ford remains committed to working collaboratively with the California Air Resources Board and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association," said Cynthia Williams, global director of sustainability, homologation, and compliance at Ford. "This alignment between California and the Environmental Protection Agency's national standards for model year 2027 and beyond will help us get more clean trucks on the road across the country."

Navistar: "Navistar is committed to offering our customers products and services which support a sustainable future. This agreement enables the regulatory certainty we all need to prepare for a future which will include ever-increasing volumes of low and zero-emissions technologies," said Michael Noonan, director of product certification and compliance for Navistar.

Paccar: "Paccar is committed to supporting the environmental goals of California and the nation as a whole and welcome the harmonization of future emissions regulation. This agreement provides regulatory certainty and supports a balanced transition to zero emissions by ensuring continued supply of product into California and opt-in states," said John Rich, chief technology officer for Paccar.

Volvo Group North America: "The Volvo Group is pleased to support this joint agreement between the California Air Resources Board and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association. We believe this lays the foundation for our customers to have the greatest possible product availability consistent with California's climate change and air quality goals. Through cooperative efforts such as this, the Volvo Group believes we can achieve the quickest and least disruptive transition to a commercial zero-emission vehicle future," said Dawn Fenton, VP of government relations and public affairs for Volvo Group North America.

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About the Author

Scott Keith

Digital Editor Scott Keith previously worked at the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where he did grant writing and communications work. He also taught English as a foreign language in Madrid for three years. Scott is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, where he studied journalism and creative writing. Special interests include sustainability, regulation, and labor.