Polis Administration Releases New Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study

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DENVER - Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 - The Polis administration, Colorado Energy Office (CEO), Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) today released a new Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study. State agencies partnered on the study to better understand the existing medium- and heavy-duty fleet in Colorado as well as the opportunities and challenges associated with a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) fleet transition. 

The Polis administration is committed to taking bold action on climate and improving air quality. Through the passage of HB 19-1261, the state adopted science-based greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets of 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 90% by 2050. The state’s GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap identified transportation as the largest single source of GHG pollution in Colorado, with medium- and heavy-duty vehicles responsible for 25% of on-road transportation GHG emissions as well as ozone precursors━and addressing these emissions is critical to meeting the state’s GHG reduction goals. In July 2020, Gov. Polis signed a 15-state memorandum of understanding to advance a transition toward ZEV trucks.

Key findings from the Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study include:

  • Medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs will provide net cost savings for fleets due to lower fuel and maintenance costs as well as significant emissions reductions, air quality improvements and public health benefits despite higher up front purchase costs. 
  • While the national market for medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs is relatively nascent at present, it is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years with declining vehicle costs, model introductions, and new state programs and policies to spur adoption.
  • Freight is critical to Colorado’s economy, and a zero-emission transition will need to be managed carefully to ensure continued smooth fleet operations.
  • Some vehicle types and use cases, such as transit buses, school buses and medium-duty vehicles in regional haul and delivery applications, are primed for early adoption due to the readiness of the technology and vehicle usage patterns. 
  • Other vehicle types and use cases, such as long haul Class 7/8 tractor trailers, will be more challenging to transition to ZEVs and may require additional technology innovation and program support.
  • There is a need for planning and investment to support charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support a transition to ZEV━state government, electric utilities and the private sector need to work together.
  • State government, local government and other public fleets, as well as fleets owned by utilities, could make a significant contribution to leading a medium- and heavy-duty ZEV transition, as they compose a sizable portion of the vehicles in the 100 largest fleets in Colorado.
  • The long vehicle lifetimes of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in Colorado emphasize the importance of early action to reach the state's GHG pollution reduction goals. 
  • The study evaluates the potential adoption of Advanced Clean Truck rules, which would require manufacturers to ensure that a growing share of their new vehicles sales in Colorado are ZEVs beginning in 2025.
  • The study also evaluates the adoption of standards to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (a key ozone precursor) from new fossil-fuel powered trucks, which would result in significant additional air pollution reductions and public health benefits.

The study identifies key challenges that would need to be addressed to ensure a smooth transition to a ZEV fleet as well as potential strategies. Well-designed, complementary programs that provide vehicle purchase incentives, encourage the retirement of older polluting vehicles, provide technical assistance to fleets and build out a robust charging and fueling infrastructure network statewide are essential to support a transition to ZEVs. Key considerations such as workforce development and supply chain concerns also need to be evaluated and addressed both at the national and state level to ensure that the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle market is prepared for a transition to ZEVs.

Next steps:

The Polis administration, CEO, CDOT and APCD are eager to share the Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study findings with stakeholders and take inputs to help inform a clean truck strategy for Colorado. Public webinars will be held Nov. 10, 2021 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Nov. 20, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.

More details can be found at sites.google.com/state.co.us/cotriporgfreight/clean-truck-strategy.

Key issues to be discussed during the public webinars include:

  • Potential adoption of transportation air quality regulations in 2022  including the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation and standards to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution from new trucks.
  • Potential fleet requirements for ZEV adoption, likely focusing on public fleets and other selected large fleets.
  • MOUs or agreements with manufacturers and large fleets on the deployment of ZEV trucks and buses.
  • State and utility infrastructure investment to support the transition to ZEV trucks and buses, and state investment to help retire some of the oldest, most-polluting diesel trucks.
  • Inputs to the 10-year plans that will be adopted by three new transportation electrification enterprises created by SB21-260, which will collectively invest approximately $750 million in infrastructure and vehicle incentives over the next decade.

The Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study is available here. M.J. Bradley & Associates conducted the study on behalf of the state.