California just drove another nail into the coffin of the internal combustion engine. The state has just passed new legal requirements that will mandate all new truck and van sales must be zero emissions vehicles. The requirements start phasing in at the start of 2024, going into full effect by 2040. This isn’t to say it can’t be done faster, but we’ve now established a legal deadline at which point polluting trucks can no longer be sold. The writing is on the wall: this business has no future.
California is kind of a trend setter when it comes to air pollution standards. 7 other states and the District of Columbia are now moving to enact California’s regulations, pretty much word for word. Don’t be surprised to see this start spreading across the country if not across the world.
NBC News ran with this headline on the story:
California shakes up auto industry, says all vans and trucks must be electric by 2024NBC News
You love to hear a headline like that, but “shakes up” is kind of an understatement. This regulation turns the entire global automotive industry on its head.
California is one of the biggest and most lucrative markets for carmakers worldwide. If trucks and vans will now be required to go electric, you can guess what’s coming next…
California regulators have approved new rules that would see a massive shift from conventional gas and diesel trucks and vans to ones powered by batteries and zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.NBC News
Sounds great –– except for the hydrogen part. But we’ll let the market decide on that one.
The first-of-their-kind guidelines, which take effect in 2024, cover a broad range of truck segments, from medium-duty models up to the “big rigs” that move vast amount of goods throughout California and across the country. Current guidelines from the California Air Resources Board already press manufacturers to add electric and hydrogen trucks to light-duty segments.
California’s push to reduce truck emissions could lead to some major changes in a traditionally staid automotive industry. Among other things, it could encourage the emergence of new competitors such as Nikola Motors, which is producing an array of hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks, and Detroit-based start-up Rivian, which has a contract to produce around 100,000 all-electric delivery vans for Amazon.NBC News
Nikola? Let me put it this way: the regulations will start going into effect before Nikola delivers their first hydrogen truck. I’d love to be wrong, but that seems most likely at this time.
“California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner, becoming the first place in the world to mandate zero-emission trucks by 2045,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a Thursday statement. “Communities and children of color are often forced to breathe our most polluted air, and today’s vote moves us closer toward a healthier future for all of our kids.”NBC News
This is true. It’s almost always the most disadvantaged who have to deal with the harmful effects of air pollution. The wealthy –– who profit from the economic status quo –– are able to shield themselves from it by choosing not to live near highways.
Under guidelines approved Thursday, at least 40 percent of the tractor trailers sold in California would have to be powered by some form of zero-emissions technology by 2024. Medium-duty trucks, such as the Ford F-250 or Chevrolet Silverado HD, would be required to switch over 55 percent of their sales by 2035; and 75 percent of delivery trucks and vans would have to use zero-emissions powertrain technology by 2035, a point by which fully 100 percent of government fleets and last-mile delivery trucks would have to meet the target.NBC News
Wow! These requirements are going to be huge not just for the Tesla Semi, but also for the Cybertruck. Sandy Munro has said that based on the towing capacity, Cybertruck is actually more of an F-250 competitor than an F-150 competitor.
CARB Chair Mary Nichols said, “It’s the only way we think we can make significant progress on the most stubborn air pollution problems.”
But industry officials were far more skeptical. Jed Mandel, president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, warned that there was a variety of reasons why hydrogen and electric trucks aren’t the answer. “They cost more than traditional fuel trucks, because there’s no charging infrastructure and developing one is very expensive,” he said during testimony.
That is changing rapidly, however, countered Andy Schwartz, a policy adviser for Tesla who said, “Charging infrastructure can and will be built.”NBC News
Oh really, the industry is against it? What a shocker. If they would do the right thing themselves, there would be no need to mandate this transition by law. We need people to solve the technological challenges needed to make electric semi trucks better, lower cost, and easier to fuel than any competition. It’s not just going to happen on its own.
Tesla, meanwhile, has already energized an extensive charging grid across North America, with plans to beef up the Supercharger network as it prepares to roll out both its Cybertruck pickup and big Semi truck.NBC News
Megachargers baby 🔥
Wonder if the Cybertruck will be able to use Megachargers? Elon did say “charging rate will be above 250 kw, we’ll announce the actual number later” at the reveal.
Along with Tesla, Nikola Motors hopes to gain traction thanks to the CARB ruling on zero-emissions trucks. The Phoenix-based start-up — which recently went public and now has a larger market capitalization than Ford — is focusing on hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks, such as the Nikola One. The company hopes to mitigate concerns about finding fuel by setting up its own network of hydrogen stations across the country.NBC News
Oh please. This company is a steaming pile of shit.
I would love to see them prove that hydrogen fuel cells are a viable technology for long haul trucking, but it just seems wasteful to me. The cost of building 800 hydrogen stations at $20 million each is $16 billion. That’s a lot of money to waste on infrastructure that might quickly be rendered obsolete by improvements in battery technology.
So yeah, I hope the hydrogen thing works out. More zero emission options is better. But hydrogen fuel cells were a disaster in cars, and I have a feeling they’ll be a disaster in trucks too. Nikola seems more likely to shutter operations than popularize hydrogen, in my view. It’s hard when your business model is fighting the laws of physics. Their best shot is if they dump the hydrogen plans altogether and focus on battery electric vehicles.
Conventional truck and automotive manufacturers are laying out major plans of their own. General Motors CEO Mary Barra this month announced plans to build electric delivery vans, in addition to the all-electric Hummer pickup to debut in 2021. The various subsidiaries of Daimler AG, such as Freightliner, have already launched an assortment of electric vans and heavy trucks, with more in the works. And Toyota is partnering with truck giant Kenworth to develop hydrogen-powered Class 8 semi prototypes that could lead to production models later this decade.
In terms of light-duty vehicles, as many as eight, and possibly 10, start-ups and conventional manufacturers are expected to be producing all-electric pickups by 2023, including the Hummer, the Cybertruck and an all-electric version of the Ford F-150.NBC News
The electrification race is on. This is where all the growth in the global auto industry will come from from here on out. Those who stake their claims early will own the future.