CARB Advanced Clean Fleets Regulations | FAQs & Guide
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently approved “Advanced Clean Fleets” (ACF), a new regulatory program that will affect certain fleets operating vehicles in California that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 8,500 pounds. The CARB-approved regulations, unless overturned, will become law once approved by the California Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State.
The FAQs below are intended as a quick and simple guide to help California fleet owners understand the ACF program. For a detailed understanding of the ACF, we encourage you to reach out to CARB, or contact a knowledgeable legal expert.
Why did CARB adopt the ACF program?
CARB is seeking to accelerate the implementation of zero-emission truck and bus fleets statewide to meet California’s air quality and climate goals.
These goals include a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 1990 levels by 2030, a 50% reduction in petroleum use by 2030, and an 80% reduction of GHGs below 1990 levels by 2050.
CARB adopted ACF to reduce emissions from the commercial transportation sector, in furtherance of these statewide goals.
What do the ACF requirements mean for California truck fleets?
CARB seeks to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles on a large scale, under direction from the Governor of California to require the transition of all medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles operating in California to zero-emission everywhere feasible by 2045. As part of this effort, ACF requires certain “high priority” and government medium- and heavy-duty fleets to remove vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) from their fleets and to purchase only zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) starting on certain dates—or, in the alternative, to ensure that their fleets contain increasing percentages of ZEVs by certain “milestone” dates.
In conjunction with these fleet requirements, CARB has adopted a requirement that, beginning with the 2036 model year (MY), all new vehicles over 8,500 pounds GVWR that are produced and delivered for sale to an ultimate purchaser in California must be ZEVs (with the exception of authorized emergency vehicles).
What types of fleets does the ACF program affect?
The ACF regulation applies to the following fleets:
Fleets performing drayage operations at California seaports and intermodal railyards
Starting January 1st, 2024, all drayage trucks (i.e., those performing short-haul transportation of shipping containers at California seaports and intermodal railyards) newly registering in CARB’s online system must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Starting January 1, 2025, CARB will remove all existing (or “legacy”) internal combustion engine (ICE) drayage trucks from its registration system by March 31 of the calendar year that they reach their minimum useful life threshold, and these trucks can no longer provide drayage services in California. Beginning January 1, 2035, all drayage trucks in the registry must be ZEVs, and only ZEVs can provide drayage service in California.
State and local government agency fleets
Starting January 1, 2024, operators of these fleets must ensure that at least 50% of vehicle purchases (over 8,500 lbs GVWR) in each calendar year are ZEVs. Starting January 1, 2027, 100% of California fleet purchases in each calendar year must be ZEVs. Alternatively, state and local government fleets may follow the “ZEV Milestones Option” described below for high-priority and federal fleets. State or local government agencies with 10 or fewer vehicles and that have jurisdiction solely in low-population areas are only subject to the January 1, 2027, ZEV purchase requirement.
For municipal fleet operators, there are services like Sourcewell that can assist with the ZEV procurement process. They help streamline the bidding process by allowing members to search through a catalog for vendors and products that have already been vetted.
High-priority and federal fleets
These requirements apply to any entity operating vehicles over 8,500 lbs GVWR in California that either has gross annual revenue of $50 million or more (regardless of fleet size) or that operates or directs the operation of 50 or more vehicles in their total fleet, excluding light-duty package delivery vehicles. They also apply to federal government agencies operating California fleets of any size.
Affected vehicles include all Class 2b-8 on-road vehicles, off-road yard tractors, and light-duty package delivery vehicles that operate in California.
How high-priority fleets can comply with CARB’s new ACF regulations
There are two options to comply with ACF:
1. Model Year Schedule:
Beginning January 1, 2024, all vehicles added to the fleet must be ZEVs, and beginning January 1, 2025, all ICE vehicles must be removed from the California fleet at the end of their useful life or when the engine MY is 18 years or older, whichever occurs first.
2. ZEV Milestones Option:
Until January 1, 2030, fleet owners may opt-in to this option in lieu of the Model Year Schedule. Under this option, a portion of the fleet owner’s California fleet must be ZEVs based on the schedule in the regulation. This option allows for continued purchase and operation of ICE vehicles as long as fleet operators maintain the required ratio. Further:
Any ICE vehicle (e.g., used vehicles) added to the California fleet on or after January 1, 2024, must have a 2010 through 2023 model year engine or a 2024 model year or newer engine certified to applicable California emissions standards and emissions-related requirements.
Any new ICE vehicle added to the California fleet must be certified to applicable California emissions standards and emissions-related requirements.
How will ACF affect existing trucks and equipment?
According to CARB, since the ACF regulation will be implemented over several decades, existing trucks and equipment are guaranteed a full, useful life.
Since the implementation schedule begins in 2024, CARB estimates drayage, high-priority, and federal fleets can continue for a further 18 years or until the vehicle surpasses 800,000 miles.
Furthermore, existing vehicles operated by state and local fleets are not subject to end-of-useful life phase-out requirements.
Are there exemptions to the ACF rule?
Yes. The ACF rules list several exempt vehicle types (e.g., school buses, emergency vehicles, dedicated snow removal vehicles, etc.) and also provide a number of exemptions/extensions for certain circumstances, such as where fleet owners experience delays beyond their control in a project to install ZEV fueling infrastructure.
In addition, while it’s unlikely that a proper ZEV solution isn’t available, there is an exemption for cases where the ZEV configuration needed by a fleet is not available.
In such a case, the ACF regulations allow operators to purchase ICE vehicles. As of this writing, CARB is compiling a list of vehicle configurations that are not available as ZEVs.
However, CARB currently maintains that only 3% of medium and heavy-duty vehicles in California are of the specialty variety that would qualify for an exemption.
How many trucks will the ACF regulation affect?
CARB estimates that of the 1.8 million medium and heavy-duty vehicles in California operating daily, 532,000 will be subject to the new requirements.
What’s more, CARB estimates that the ACF regulations will result in roughly 1.7 million ZEVs on the road in California by 2050.
What trucks are CARB-certified?
RIZON trucks will be available as an ideal solution for fleets looking to meet their ACF obligations by purchasing zero-emission Class 4-5 medium-duty trucks. All our vehicles will be CARB-certified before they are made available for commercial sales.
Are subsidies and other incentives available for zero-emission vehicles?
Yes. The California Hybrid and Zero-emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) helps California fleet operators with the cost of transitioning to ZEV technologies by offering vouchers that can be applied toward purchase or lease costs for eligible vehicles. A list of ZEVs eligible to receive HVIP funding support is available on the HVIP website.
The best method for exploring ZEV options is to consult an HVIP-certified dealer who can help you navigate the options based on your specifications and needs.
Velocity Truck Centers is one such dealer with reputable industry experience.
There are also tax incentives for certain ZEV purchases (14,000 lbs GVWR or greater) available under the Inflation Reduction Act.
Class 4-5 vehicles such as those in RIZON’s portfolio generally qualify for $60,000 in funding per truck.
For more information, check out our article on HVIP funding.
Will there be penalties for non-compliance with ACF once it becomes legally enforceable?
Yes. Once ACF becomes law in California, CARB will have the authority to assess penalties for non-compliance with the fleet purchase and other provisions of the regulations, including reporting and other administrative requirements.
How can I begin making the transition?
Fleet managers and fleet owners will face a myriad of challenges aside from transitioning to electric. They will also need to develop their infrastructure for charging as well and arrange charging schedules.
For more information, check out our article on fleet electrification for tips.
Transitioning to an electric commercial vehicle fleet can seem daunting given the complexities and variables, but through early planning, understanding needs, evaluating available options, developing a deployment plan, addressing infrastructure needs, and monitoring and optimizing performance, a company can reap the benefits of reduced emissions, improved efficiency, and cost savings that electric vehicles can provide.