Move toward electric trucks ‘ignores operational realities’

April 30, 2024

Mark Schremmer


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase 3 greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles are unworkable and ignore operational realities, a trucking executive told a House subcommittee.

The comments were part of the Highways and Transit subcommittee hearing about the nation’s electrification efforts on Tuesday, April 30.

Taki Darakos, a vice president at Pitt Ohio who was testifying on behalf of the American Trucking Associations, told lawmakers that trucking has been working diligently to reduce direct-tailpipe emission.

“A new truck today emits 99% fewer particulate matter emissions than one in 1985, and 99% fewer nitrogen oxide emissions than one in 1975,” Darakos said. “In fact, 60 trucks today emit what one truck emitted in 1988. These cleaner trucks are meeting Americans’ demands to move more freight than ever before.”

However, the EPA published a final rule in March that requires a quarter of sleeper-cab tractors to be “zero-emission” (directly from the tailpipe) by 2032.

“This unworkable mandate ignores operational realities and places a costly burden on trucking companies,” Darakos said. “Although battery-electric trucks show promise in certain applications, it is apparent they are not ready for broad deployment due to technology limitations.”

Concerns about electric trucks

House Highways and Transit Chairman Rick Crawford, R-Ark., also used his opening statement to highlight challenges the trucking industry faces due to the EPA’s efforts to replace diesel trucks with electric ones.

“The technology needed to electrify the trucking industry isn’t ready,” Crawford said. “A Roland Berger study, commissioned by the Clean Freight Coalition, found that a $1 trillion investment is needed to electrify the U.S. commercial truck fleet. This includes $620 billion for charging infrastructure and $370 billion to upgrade the power grid.”

Darakos said the main obstacles facing the move toward electric trucks involve technology limitations, the lack of infrastructure and the cost.

“Battery-electric trucks require an enormous amount of energy,” he said. “Just one truck depot could require the same amount of electricity needed to power an entire town.”

Crawford said that the average battery-electric Class 8 truck costs about $400,000 compared to $180,000 for a diesel version.

“I respect the rights of a company to decide if it’s in the company’s best interest to electrify their fleet, just like I respect their ability to choose to go in another direction, like natural gas,” Crawford said. “But it is also important to recognize that many fleets, including owner-operators, will be put at a competitive disadvantage and simply can’t afford to purchase new vehicles, let alone a $400,000 rig.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has called the EPA’s emission standards an “assault on small-business truck drivers.”

“Small-business truckers, who happen to care about clean air for themselves and their kids as much as anyone, make up 96% of trucking. Yet this administration seems dead set on regulating every local mom and pop business out of existence with its flurry of unworkable environmental mandates,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a statement. “This administration appears more focused on placating extreme environmental activists who have never been inside a truck than the small-business truckers who ensure that Americans have food in their grocery stores and clothes on their backs. If you bought it, a trucker brought it.” LL

Land Line Associate Editor Tyson Fisher contributed to this report.