California Seeks To Ban Sales Of New Diesel Semi Trucks By 2040

District 03

Last month, the California Air Resources Board voted to phase out the sales of new internal combustion cars by 2035. As questions remain of what that future may look like, the state is ready to further expand on this idea. CARB is proposing legislation that would ban the sales of new medium and heavy duty trucks in the state by 2040.

Back in August, the California Air Resources Board voted to ban the sales of new internal combustion cars by 2035. As we reported, the impact of this will be huge. Currently about 16 percent of California’s new vehicle sales are emissions-free vehicles. But for the period between now and 2035, CARB is setting goals for phasing out sales of new ICE-powered cars. In 2026, the number of emissions-free vehicle sales are expected to rise to 35 percent. And in 2030, 68 percent of California’s new car sales are expected to be emissions-free. Then, in 2035, the state will make it illegal to sell a new internal combustion-powered passenger vehicle.

At first, California was praised as being the first in the world to do this, but that wasn’t correct. Back in 2019, British Columbia passed a law banning the sale of new ICE-powered vehicles in 2040. And is widely reported, Europe voted before California to ban the sales of new ICE vehicles in 2035.

Here in the United States, many states already had laws on their books that merely targeted the phasing out the sales of new ICE vehicles. California went all of the way to make it a law. Since a number of states follow California’s lead on vehicle emissions regulations, there have been announcements of plans to enact similar new ICE sales bans as California.

Washington state announced plans to follow California’s lead. Virginia and Massachusetts went even further by passing trigger laws in the past. Virginia and Massachusetts passed laws that would ban the sale of new ICE-powered vehicles in 2035. However, their laws were dependent on California signing its own law, first. This means that at the moment, there are at least three states with laws on their books to ban the sales of new ICE-powered cars and more pledging to follow suit. I should also note that there is a movement in Virginia right now to repeal that trigger law, so it’s possible that its law (or any other state’s law) may not be around in 2035.

This comes on the heels of California beginning to phase out the small off-road engines like the ones used in lawnmowers by 2024 and generators like the ones used in RVs by 2028. And now, CARB wants to go even further.


Currently, California’s new ICE sales ban only impacts vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of no more than 8,500 pounds. That means that new heavier-duty vehicles can still be sold in ICE form in 2035. However, CARB plans to enact legislation that would cover medium and heavy duty vehicles, too, including semi trucks sold in the state. CARB’s reasoning is this, from page 7 of the proposal:

In addition to regional air pollutant levels, many communities in the state experience measurable harm in the form of negative health impacts from high levels of localized pollution. There is an immediate need to reduce emissions and exposure in these highly impacted, low-income, and DACs throughout the state. Heavy-duty vehicle activity is often concentrated in and near these communities. This is not a coincidence. Decades of racist and classist practices, including red-lining and siting decisions, have concentrated heavy-duty vehicle and freight activities in these communities, with concomitant disproportionate pollution burdens. For instance, communities in and around ports move much of the nation’s freight, and so experience pollution on a national scale in their neighborhoods. CARB has legal and moral obligations to lessen these burdens.

The regulator’s plans to do it are laid out in a 296-page document. There’s a lot to go through, so I’ll highlight the most important bits.

The proposal starts off by targeting state and local government fleets. Vehicle additions to fleets outside of designated low-population counties would be expected to be 50 percent emissions-free by 2024, and 100 percent by 2027. And ICE vehicles in those fleets will be expected to be retired after their minimum useful life.

Drayage trucks, the Class 7 and Class 8 trucks that operate at intermodal seaports and railyards, would be required to be electric by 2035. But until then, existing ICE drayage trucks would be allowed to operate for a minimum period, defined as the later of these two scenarios:

  • Thirteen (13) years from the MY that the engine and emissions control systems are first certified by CARB or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA); or

  • When the vehicle reaches 800,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or 18 years from the MY that the engine and emissions control systems are first certified by CARB or the U.S. EPA, whichever is earlier.

And beginning in 2024, all new drayage trucks added to the CARB Online System will have to be electric. CARB’s idea is that these scenarios will slowly phase out ICE drayage trucks until 2035, when all would be required to be electric.

And here’s the one that I think will be the biggest. According to the proposal, sales of all new medium duty and heavy duty vehicles (gross vehicle weight rating of over 8,500 pounds) will have to be electric by 2040. That includes semi trucks, but excludes emergency vehicles.


CARB expects that all of these measures would reduce “cardiopulmonary mortality, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory illness, and ER visits for asthma.”

As for charging all of these electric vehicles, the regulator has thoughts on that, too. For operations where trucks return to a depot at the end of the day, CARB expects those vehicles to be charged off-shift. Ideas like this are already in place for schools utilizing electric buses and other EV fleet operators.

For trucks traveling long distances? CARB is expecting that charging infrastructure will be up to par. At first, the state says that electric trucks will have to feed from up to 350 kW public chargers, and take up to three hours to charge. However, the state is expecting that in the future, an “extreme high-powered charging system” will be in place to allow long haul truckers to charge up at truck stops and rest areas. This proposed charging system would provide 3.75 MW of power to charge a truck in under an hour.

Now, I must mention that just like with the new ICE car sales ban, used medium and heavy duty trucks will be allowed to be sold and driven in the state. But if you’ll be shopping for a new semi in California in 2040, the state expects you to encounter nothing but electric trucks. As of now, this is just a proposal. However, the state has signaled that it’s ready to make most vehicles driving around the state powered by electricity.

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67 Responses

  1. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Maybe they’ll have to back off of this, but I doubt it. CARB does a lot of stuff that the rest of the country thinks is insane but which ends up working out reasonably well. For example, we pay a lot more for gas than most of the country at least partly because the formulations are different here in order to help control air pollution. That’s a pain in the ass for those of us who have to pay for it but it also seems to work. I lived in LA in the early ’80’s. and 3rd stage smog alerts were common in the summer. From what I hear, that doesn’t happen anywhere near as often anymore. So pay more for gas, pay less for health care due to all of the asthma, emphysema, COPD, etc. that people end up getting from living with the smog.

    Does any of that mean that this electric car business will work out? Nope. But it might. As always, we’ll see.

    1. How do you explain the other smog-free cities in the country that aren’t using the “CARB formulations”?

      If you’re getting the same results as everybody else at a much higher cost, it’s time to start questioning.

      1. LA was one of the first places in the world to experience smog from vehicle emissions (as well as industry, but car emissions being right at ground level increase their impact exponentially), due to the location, climactic conditions, and massive vehicular use. So, for them to get rid of the smog obviously took much more severe measures than it did in Puyallup or wherever. Apples and oranges.

      2. Well, if you bothered using critical thinking you’d probably realize that the LA basin is impacted by a number of things that make it more prone to smog than other regions. Population density/size is obviously a factor, but did you know that the San Gabriel mountains are also a factor? Are you aware that other large cities also have issues with smog? It’s immensely better than it was 25+ years ago where going outside was detrimental to your health and you couldn’t see more than a few miles before the thickness of the smog prevented you from seeing further.

        1. I grew up in OC in the Seventies. I couldn’t see the mountains most days because of smog. I got sick every time we went to LA. The most glorious days were after a rain had washed out the smog, and we could see the mountains.
          I certainly understand why they would have special formulations there, and glad that they seem to be working.

    1. This is ridculous with today’s current battery technolgy. Watched a youtube video of an F150 lightning towing a 3500lb trailer. It cut the range from 200 miles to about 70.

      Unless there is some crazy technological break thru, electric cars do not scale up to big trucks hauling seriously heavy loads.

      Also where is California going to find all this extra electricity??? Build a few more natural gas power plants would be my guess Or some new nuclear plants but that will never happen because nuclear is a political pariah

  2. CA continues to defy reality. The grid is stressed out, so let’s force MORE users on it by requiring more electric vehicle, banning gas-fired heating, and banning gas-powered lawn equipment. Just because they may be right in that we need to transition to less-polluting sources of energy doesn’t mean we need to do it this fast. And let’s not forget that if we shut everything down TODAY it would make a tiny dent in the problem, since China and other countries are still putting up new coal plants.

    1. If you want to improve the grid, create a financial incentive to do so. This does exactly that. 13 years to improve an electric grid is very realistic, especially with a law in place that makes it easy for supplier to predict future usage.

      We DO need to do it this fast, in fact, we needed to do it MUCH faster. We’ve known about the impending catastrophe for decades, and sat on our asses because billions of dollars in oil profits were at stake.

      If other countries are failing to do their part, such as China adding coal plants, then the absolute WORST thing we could do would be to move slowly. That just creates all the more urgency for America to lead. Remember when American used to lead?

  3. One large cargo ship emits as much as 50 million cars. Just one. Why bother with cars?

    1. I wonder if the implementation of Electric trucks would force shipping companies to develop more efficient routes, due to having to charge often. At the very least if we can avoid the dead miles, air quality should improve markedly

    2. “emits” what? The linked page lists SOx/NOx emissions for which commercial shipping is indeed a massive contributor. But electrification is mostly targeting CO2 emissions reductions and commercial shipping is only responsible for 3.5-4% of overall GHG emissions.

  4. The exemption on emergency vehicles makes sense, but unless these emergency vehicles will always be running on legacy drivetrains, these vehicles will be hella expensive for low batch manufacturing. Curious to see how this will work.

    Also, long haul freight, why not just coordinate charge time rate with the amount of downtime mandatory for drivers? No need for 1.21 Gigawatt chargers with humongous supporting coolers and charging cables if you’re already stopped for 8hrs…

    1. I imagine the challenge there is range. If the mandatory break happens right in the middle of the 11-hour driving day, that still means 5.5hrs at 70mph for 385 miles of range needed, followed by only 30m to put in the next 385 miles of charge. The rules can probably be rearranged somewhat to accommodate charging, but very few people can do well on the kind of dynamic polyphasic sleep schedule needed to really optimize it.

      Huh, that 385 miles needed does “only” mean about 6000lbs of batteries though. That’s not drastically more than the existing motor, transmission, and fuel.

  5. I spoke to one of the school bus drivers in a district in my part of So California. They bought several of these. They are transit style busses and don’t have enough range to allow the drivers to do their complete routes for the day. They have to come back to the yard after their morning routes and get a diesel bus to do the afternoon route. There’s not enough time to charge the bus in between while the kids are in school. Also, they were getting on the highway where speed limit is 65 (55 for busses/trucks) and it took over one and one half miles to get up to 55 mph with just four adults on board. How is that going to work if they are seated with the 80 person capacity? All California is doing with EVs is relocating the pollution to anywhere else but here in California and no doubt someone somewhere is getting rich off of this BS.

  6. Loving all the comments from people who can’t imagine that 18 years from now EV tech will be as different as today’s is from that of 2004. I’m not going to bother with a long list, but the Tesla Roadster entered production in 2008. Sit with that for a bit.

    1. And it’s not just here, literally everywhere I go that has a comments section I see people complaining about it. I’m sure they also failed to realize that by 2035 most states will have EV laws like this on the books, and if they don’t, most vehicles sold will be EV’s anyways.

  7. No matter your opinion on electric cars and trucks, I don’t know how you look at these laws as they sit today and think they’re anything other than poorly planned, unrefined political soapboxes.

    The issues they’re attempting to address with these blanket rules are incredibly complex and involve huge innovations in many areas (range, battery materials, the grid, etc.). To pretend that you can “ban” your way into solutions for all these is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst

  8. If CARB wasn’t making a phase out target, the people moaning about CARB overreaching would complain there was no case for modernizing the grid or whatever because the poor small o/o couldn’t justify the cost. Or some other invented excuse to never change.

    1. When it comes to BEVs (and previously hybrids), there have always been anti-BEV trolls. It’s nothing new.

      I suspect that most of them have ties to the oil industry in some way.

      1. You’re giving them too much credit assuming they have ties to the oil industry. I guarantee most of them are just parroting bullshit talking points they hear from their news sources or lack the ability to critically think.

  9. To all you Gretas out there, the widely circulated ditty about a cargo ship emitting as much a a zillion cars is simply not true. Besides, if it were true, why do you still buy Chinese crap? Because, inside you know that it is not true – yet you still promote the lie to up your simp cred with your green haired girlfriend.

  10. Fuck CARB. Again, fuck CARB. If there ever was an organization that was the epitome of libt**d pie in the sky greenwashing policies, it’s this group of idiots. They fucked the entire country out of having efficient, powerful diesel engines in passenger cars for the past 30 odd years, and now they are going to screw the rest of the country over with their insane, unrealistic policies that will fail to come to fruition and leave the working class in a huge lurch, as well as hobble the logistics and transportation sectors.

    News flash: California is not the center of the universe, and doesn’t get to tell the rest of the country what to do. I’m generally a progressive, and I fucking despised Cheetolini with a passion, but the one thing he did that I actually agreed with was telling CARB to blow it out their ass for forcing their emissions standards down the entire country’s throat.

    If they really wanted to do something useful and meaningful, they’d force the cargo ship industry to go all electric, since, as has been pointed out that cargo ships are actually responsible for the majority of significant emissions, but they don’t want to piss off the longshoremen’s unions and industry that is centered around cheap shit from China flowing into the CA ports. As usual, the private citizens shoulder the burden instead of the corporations. Typical.

    1. Counterpoint: when things get bad (rivers on fire, smog so thick it stings your eyes) the reaction can be an overreach. But, go watch a few episodes of CHIPS on yt, and look at the smog in LA then. Look at the black stripe down every lane where the crankcase breather used to vent just straight down(ask an old motorcycle rider about how dangerous the center of those slick lanes were!).
      I was not happy with catalytic converters by any means at first, but, recently got a good whiff of the exhaust of a Subaru with ‘test pipes’ fitted to eliminate the converter. I had forgotten just how bad straight exhaust actually is! Not fully backing CARB by any means here, but, even as a stick-in-the-mud semi-Luddite, I gotta admit they have done some good.

      That said, I still cuss whenever I deal with the vapor-recovery system.
      Guess I’m saying is not starkly black or white

      1. “That said, I still cuss whenever I deal with the vapor-recovery system.”

        Well you just need to buy a Tesla… then you won’t have to worry about vapor-recovery systems anymore!

    2. “If they really wanted to do something useful and meaningful, they’d force the cargo ship industry to go all electric”

      Not possible. A battery using current tech capable of storing the energy needed would be heavy enough to sink the ship. Hydrogen may not work either as it’s poor energy density by volume would require far more fuel storage space, cutting deep into cargo space. NG might have a shot but of course the real answer is nuclear.

  11. I think the key takeaway here is that Californians would rather neuter their industry than admit they’re not willing to let poor and/or racialized people live near them.

      1. I’ll admit I’m fixating on the following statement;

        “ecades of racist and classist practices, including red-lining and siting decisions, have concentrated heavy-duty vehicle and freight activities in these communities, with concomitant disproportionate pollution burdens. For instance, communities in and around ports move much of the nation’s freight, and so experience pollution on a national scale in their neighborhoods. CARB has legal and moral obligations to lessen these burdens.”

        Still, is it fair to say that, as much as it’s out of CARB’s domain, California (like just about any reasonably wealthy, liberal area – I say this as a Torontonian) has a ton of problems with NIMBYism? Better to keep the segregated people segregated and breathing marginally cleaner air than let them live in more desirable areas?

  12. Let me start by saying, I love this technology and I also had a Chevy Volt for many years and will buy an EV again. That being said, there’s so many infrastructure upgrades that need to be made to make this all happen. When we start talking about MW charging systems, not many people really understand how much power that is. Take a regular truck stop (usually along the highway, but not near any major city, with probably 30-40 pumps. Now start talking about needing 30-40 megawatts of power capacity at that truck stop to handle 30-40 trucks filling at the same time. That’s the power that typically feeds 3 to 4 million square feet of office space. Or the power to feed 7,000-10,000 homes. And then realize that those trucks can’t fill the battery as fast as a diesel tank, so you probably need 2-3x as many charging stations as fuel pumps. The electric grid and the electric generation capacity isn’t ready for any of this yet. It’s hard enough for a gas station to install a DC Fast Charge station, because even those require a 250-350kva transformer for each DCFC station. Most gas stations might have, at most, a 150kva transformer feeding the whole facility. Even if the infrastructure gets upgraded enough, the construction industry can barely get enough transformers and electrical switchboards for building construction as it is. We are seeing lead times of 60-70 weeks to get electrical switchboards and switchgear, and 2-3 years to get oil filled transformers. I haven’t seen many signs that utilities are addressing any of these concerns yet, and the grid in California certainly doesn’t seem robust enough to handle all this additional load as it currently sits. They’d better get a move on.

    1. (Fellow Volt owner woohoo!)

      I think a lot of the points you bring up will be more of an issue for owner-operators. If I had to guess, this measure is probably going to get amended to give owner-operators a break and focus on the big trucking fleets.

      Fleets (especially LTL, “less than truckload”) are better sorted to move to electric anyways, for the same reason that some Autopians give for a possible hydrogen trucking fleet: route planning and designated hubs for refueling/maintenance. In fact (and I never thought I’d be saying this) but this might be the one use case where hydrogen has an edge, simply because of the shorter refueling times. Fleet operators have the luxury of swapping drivers AND more centralized maintenance operations, meaning they can maximize the amount of time their trucks are on the road, which is essential if you’re running LTL.

      (Plus, a PHEV/EREV setup like a Volt strikes me as a good idea for addressing the very real pollution issues CARB brings up, being able to switch to 50-60 miles of electric operation within the city.)

  13. Assuming that this actually gets implemented, and that there are not reasonably priced electric trucks that can match diesels in hauling capability and time to refuel, this is only going to hurt small owner-operators in CA.

    The big trucking companies, the Swifts and the JB Hunts, will just buy and register their trucks in other states.

  14. Yeah, well, by 2040 the icecaps will be gone and half of California will be under water. So there won’t be many trucks driving around in that wilderness, but whatever makes them happy.

    1. Yeah but here’s the problem. All those Californian nuts that vote for these politicians will have to relocate to other states. They will then take control and screw up their new states. Much like locusts total destruction then move on to destroying new areas. Perhaps Trump’s wall truly was built on the wrong border.

      1. It’s the rest of the country that’s screwed up. Not California. We’re always leading the way. Without California, the rest of you would still be living in the 19th Century.

      2. Don’t worry, the average Trump voter is an aging, overweight guy with anger and stress issues who won’t listen to his doctor. Most of them won’t be around in 2035 to see this happen anyway.

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