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California doubled sales of electric trucks, buses and vans. Newsom credits new regulations

Ari Plachta, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Automotive News

The sale of new electric trucks, buses and vans in California doubled in 2023 over the previous year and one of every six medium and heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state produce zero carbon emissions, according to new state data.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said these figures show an industry transitioning to clean heavy duty transportation faster than what’s required under California’s recent landmark regulations. He celebrated the increase as a key milestone on Thursday.

“We’re proving we can get this done,” he said in a media call, noting his recent pleasurable experience driving an electric PepsiCo truck. “This is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is about economic light. It’s about economic competitiveness.”

The state’s Advanced Clean Trucks regulation passed in 2020 mandated increasing sales of zero-emission trucks and vans, aiming for all new commercial vehicles sold in the state to be electric by 2045.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which collects data on vehicle sales and registrations at major ports, said medium and heavy duty vehicles reached 16% of the market in 2023 — far ahead of the mandated 6% sales requirement by 2024.

Ford and GM sold the most zero emission trucks, according to CARB data. The report lacked specifics on which class of truck or van saw the most sales, such as last-mile vans that deliver e-commerce packages.

Diesel and gasoline powered medium and heavy-duty vehicles contribute a significant portion of California’s transportation-related emissions, accounting for about 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.


CARB relies on the Environmental Protection Agency to grant waivers under the Clean Air Act, allowing the state to implement more stringent vehicle pollution regulations than the federal standards, and it is currently awaiting approval from the Biden administration for the state’s Clean Trucks rule.

Through its ambitious regulations and credits, California leaders aim to establish the state as a leader in EV manufacturing and technology development.

“California is the new Michigan when it comes to manufacturing zero emission vehicles,” said Patty Monohan, who sits on the California Energy Commission. “CARB’s world leading regulations are essential to solving our air quality and climate goals.”

Andrea Vidaurre, cofounder and policy coordinator of the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, was a leading voice in the making of CARB’s landmark trucking regulations. She said this data is validating to the communities who pushed for the rules.

Her advocacy focused on air pollution and health impacts on communities of color in the Inland Empire and across the Central Valley caused by a diesel-powered boom of the state’s warehouse and trucking industry.

“We were right,” she said. “This is why regulations are so important. Just using incentives or leaving it to the market is not enough. It’s regulatory policies that push us into the right direction.”

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