New Report Documents the Availability and Potential of Zero-Emission Freight Trucks and Buses

August 11, 2021
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718,

(Washington, D.C. – August 11, 2021) A new report developed by M.J. Bradley & Associates for Environmental Defense Fund shows a large and growing opportunity to expand America’s zero-emission freight trucks and buses.

The report, titled Medium- & Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Market structure, Environmental Impact, and EV Readiness, evaluates the environmental impacts of the current fleet of freight trucks and buses and the near-term opportunities to deploy zero-emitting vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty fleet.

The report follows on the heels of President Biden signing an Executive Order with the historic goal of making half of all new passenger cars and trucks sold in 2030 zero-emitting. The President also directed EPA to develop multipollutant standards for new freight trucks and buses and to consider the role that zero-emitting vehicles could play in eliminating pollution from these vehicles.

“Deploying zero-emitting solutions in urban and community applications by 2030 and ensuring 100% of all new trucks and buses are zero-emitting by 2040 will eliminate harmful pollution from our nation’s freight trucks and buses – pollution that disproportionately burdens low income communities and communities of color,” said EDF Associate Vice President for Clean Air Strategies Peter Zalzal. “Eliminating pollution from these vehicles will help protect the climate, save truckers and fleets money, and support domestic manufacturing and American jobs.”

The U.S. medium and heavy-duty truck sector includes the almost 23 million vehicles on our roads that are used for commercial or public purposes, rather than for personal transportation – transit and school buses, freight trucks and tractor-trailers, garbage and construction trucks, delivery vans and heavy-duty pickups. Together they travel more than 430 billion miles and use 55 billion gallons of fuel each year.

While medium and heavy-duty trucks are less than 10% of all the vehicles on our roads, they are responsible for large amounts of climate pollution and other health-harming air pollution, including more than 60% of the particulate and smog-forming pollution from all U.S. vehicles. The particulate and smog-forming pollution from medium and heavy-duty vehicles are harmful air pollutants that disproportionately burden low-income communities and communities of color. Switching to zero-emitting trucks and buses would eliminate that pollution and could provide $485 billion by 2040 in health and environmental benefits.

The report evaluates four factors in assessing the readiness of zero-emitting medium and heavy-duty vehicles in different applications – the availability of electric models from manufacturers, the requirements for charging, the ability of electric models to meet operating requirements, and the business case for zero-emitting vehicles. It finds that a large number of market segments have favorable ratings across at least three of these categories, which indicates strong potential for near-term zero-emitting vehicle deployment. These market segments, which represent about 66% of the current in-use fleet, include heavy-duty pickups and vans, local delivery and service trucks and vans, transit and school buses, class 3 to 5 box trucks, class 3 to 7 stake trucks, dump trucks and garbage trucks.

Electrifying these vehicles would deliver significant public health benefits – including up to 1,500 fewer premature deaths, 1,400 fewer hospital visits, and 890,000 fewer incidents of exacerbated respiratory conditions each year.

The report also finds that there’s already significant activity in the zero-emission medium and heavy-duty market. A number of fleets have committed to zero-emitting vehicles and manufacturers have introduced prototypes and announced commercial launch dates for new models:

  • Ford will soon begin taking pre-orders for an electric version of their Transit commercial van, to be introduced in Model Year 2022.
  • Roush CleanTech recently announced a collaboration with electric bus maker Proterra and Penske Truck Leasing to develop a next generation all-electric commercial truck built on the Ford F-650 chassis.
  • Volvo and Freightliner have both started taking commercial orders for their e-models.
  • Kenworth has developed a prototype Class 6 electric truck and plans to produce up to 100 of them this year.
  • Both Navistar (NEXT) and General Motors (Bright Drop) have launched new business units to focus on electric vehicles, software, and services.
  • Navistar, Volvo, and Freightliner have all announced major investments to build or upgrade U.S. factories to produce zero-emitting vehicles.
  • Cummins will invest more than $500 million in its Electrified Power technology. Cummins has also pledged to power all its products with carbon-neutral technologies by 2050.

Fleet owners are also showing enthusiasm for electrification. Amazon recently ordered 100,000 zero-emitting delivery vans, and thousands more have been ordered by UPS, FedEx and PepsiCo. FedEx has also pledged to make its pickup and delivery fleet all-electric by 2040.

State and local governments are also embracing zero-emission trucks. For instance, there are more than 2,000 electric buses now in use or on order in 45 different states, and the Montgomery County School System in Maryland recently ordered 326 electric school buses. Fifteen states and Washington D.C. are currently working toward an historic commitment to accelerate the sale and use of zero-emitting vehicles. All of these investments and commitments are helping to grow domestic manufacturing and create American jobs.

You can read the full report here.

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