Beyond passenger cars and pickups: 5 questions answered about electrifying trucks

As part of its effort to reduce air pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, California is pursuing aggressive policies to promote clean trucks. The state already requires that by 2035, all new cars and other light-duty vehicles sold in the state must be zero emission. Its powerful Air Resources Board has adopted rules requiring that most trucks be zero emission by 2035, and is now proposing that all trucks sold by 2040 must be zero emission. The Conversation asked a panel of transportation experts from the University of California, Davis what’s involved in such a rapid transition.

1. Why is California targeting medium- and heavy-duty trucks?

Although diesel engines are valuable for moving heavy loads, they also are major polluters. Diesel trucks account for one-fourth of greenhouse gas emissions and about half of conventional air pollution from transportation in U.S. cities.

Pollutants in diesel exhaust include nitrogen oxides, fine particulates and numerous cancer-causing compounds. Since many disadvantaged communities are located near highways and industrial centers, their residents are especially affected by diesel truck pollution. Two regions in California – the Central Valley and Los Angeles-Long Beach – have some of the dirtiest air in the U.S., so the state has placed particular emphasis on cutting diesel use.