Excerpt from Transport section of 2017 “We are still in” report
With the largest (China), fourth largest (Germany) and sixth largest (India) vehicle manufacturing nations(164) announcing they are going to phase out the internal combustion engine, and with other countries like Britain and France joining in,165 the auto industry can see their future is in EVs manufactured at scale.
Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are also a large source of transport emissions; according to the EPA, they were responsible for more than 23 percent of total transportation emissions in 2015.166 What’s more, freight emissions are likely to increase going forward; the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that shipping (measured by freight-tons moved) will grow by 40 percent by 2045.167 This is largely due to increased activity in the freight sector and attendant increases in energy consumption since 1970 (with a dip in 2008 due to the recession) without a corresponding improvement in energy efficiency.168
However, the private sector has recently made advances in technology that improve trucking efficiency. This is particularly true in long-haul trucking, which accounted for 23 percent of total transportation energy usage in 2014.169 For example, North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) member companies improved their fleets’ performance to 7.11 miles per gallon (mpg) on average in 2016, compared to the national average of 5.89 mpg. In the ‘Run on Less’ roadshow organized by NACFE and the Carbon War Room, trucks operating in real-world conditions averaged more than 10 mpg.170 These improvements are the result of a combination of federal and state programs and advances in available technologies, and are an indication of the potential for further efficiency improvements.
Opportunity to Step Up
More states, cities, and businesses adopt the full range of light medium-and heavy-duty vehicle emission reduction policies.
Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles represents an important GHG emission reduction strategy in the transportation sector, due to the lower GHG intensity of electricity (on average) compared to petroleum powered vehicles.171 Stronger ZEV mandates, incentives, and R&D support for both passenger vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty busses and trucks will likely be needed at the state level. At the same time, state programs that support the rapid development of EV recharging and hydrogen refueling stations will be critical to the transformation of these sectors.
The Clean Air Act allows states to opt in to California’s independently managed vehicle emission programs, creating an opportunity for climate ambitious state governments to go further in embracing a wide range of policies California has adopted—particularly its Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has estimated that if the ZEV mandate currently adopted by ten states was adopted by all 50 states, it would translate to 16 million EVs on the road in 2025, 6 percent of the projected fleet—and would save 50 MMT of CO2e in 2025.172 Even if a much smaller number of states adopted more ambitious policies, they could help shift the national vehicle market. States with current ZEV policies in place, for instance, represent nearly one-third of the motor vehicle market. Securing even more robust policies for ZEVs in that much of the market would lay the groundwork for deeper transportation electrification and decarbonization after 2020.
While cities lack the authority to require such mandates, they can encourage growth in the ZEV market share through joint purchase programs for their fleets, offering incentives for ZEV adoption by taxi and ride-sharing industries, and financing or requiring the deployment of charging infrastructure. Businesses and universities, particularly large fleet operators, can purchase ZEVs and/or adopt highly efficient trucking technologies, while public utilities can offer significant incentive programs and assist in deploying charging infrastructure. Multiple cities, universities, and businesses partnering
together to procure ZEV fleets could send a strong demand signal to vehicle manufacturers and encourage the development of even more ZEV options and technologies at greater scale and lower cost.