Three key states in the Northeast—New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts—ended 2021 by making substantial progress for electric trucks when they each adopted California’s Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) regulation at the end of December. These Northeast states, home to more than two million medium- and heavy-duty vehicle registrations combined, join Oregon and Washington in requiring a progressively greater share of truck sales be zero-emission through 2040. Together these six states represent roughly 20% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales nationally.
The timing of this move was significant—by enacting the regulation in 2021, these states will begin implementing the zero-emission truck sales requirements for manufacturers starting in model year 2025. Any state adopting ACT in 2022 will need to wait until MY2026 to join California’s program. Because the sales requirements under ACT increase each year, even a one-year delay in effective date creates a steeper ramp for states as they join.
Beyond getting an earlier start, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are also well-positioned as favorable environments for zero-emission truck sales. New York has maintained one of the leading clean truck purchase incentive programs in the nation since 2014, while New Jersey and Massachusetts both introduced similar point-of-sale incentive schemes last year. All three states have also centered the needs of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleets in utility regulatory proceedings; in New York alone, more than $24 million has already been authorized for utilities to upgrade electric service for fleets as they add the needed charging infrastructure. These states have also emphasized planning services to better equip fleets for the zero-emission transition, such as fleet advisory programs.
More work needs to be done to ensure that truck fleets in Northeast states are supported in shifting away from diesel trucks toward zero-emission platforms. Purchase incentives must remain funded at stable levels with multi-year transparency, and utilities’ make-ready budgets for fleets must be deepened, in some cases by orders of magnitude. These leading states should also explore fleet purchase requirements once they are adopted in California to give manufacturers added certainty that there is a market for their zero-emission products.
Zero-emission trucks are increasingly a here-and-now technology that offers the ability to decouple freight movement from hazardous pollution, which historically has impacted vulnerable populations and communities of color most adversely. As manufacturers’ commitments to zero-emission truck models continue expanding, model availability will steadily improve and diminish as a barrier to mass-market penetration of non-emitting trucks. Bold commitments from leading states can serve as the catalyst to keep the rate of market development accelerating, getting more electric and fuel cell trucks onto roads and making diesel obsolete.