Near-zero emission diesel trucks make inroads in U.S.

Research shows near-zero emission diesel trucks are making inroads among U.S. trucking companies. The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the current and future role of diesel engines, equipment and fuels, reports the number of new near-zero emission diesel trucks - those incorporating advanced diesel technology manufactured in the 2010 and later model years – grew a substantial 10.2% between 2021 and 2022.

Source: Diesel Technology Forum

According to DTF’s analysis of S&P Global Mobility TIPNet Vehicles in Operation Data as of December 2022, of the model year 2010 or later Class 8 commercial trucks in operation, 95.4% are now advanced diesel technology, 2.1% are CNG, 0.3% are electric and the remainder burn gasoline or other fuels. Illinois is the state with the fastest-growing registration of new advanced diesel technology Class 8 trucks, up 4.6% as of December 2022 compared to 2021.

Of the over 15 million Class 3-8 commercial trucks in operation, the report showed the majority (75.6%) powered by diesel, followed by gasoline (22.9%), compressed natural gas (0.46%), other (ethanol, fuel cell, LNG, propane, 0.85%) and electric (0.09%). Model year 2010 and later diesels equipped with particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems (SCR) comprise 57% of Class 3-8 commercial diesel trucks on the road today – also a 10.2% increase from 2022 vs. 2021 – with 65.7% model year 2007 and newer, meaning they are equipped with at least particulate filters that achieve near-zero emissions for particulates.

According to DTF, the state with the highest percentage of registrations of 2010 and later model year diesel trucks is Indiana (73.2%), followed by Utah (66.2%), Pennsylvania (66.0%), the District of Columbia (65.4%), Texas (63.6%), Oklahoma (62.6%), Florida (62.3%), Illinois (60.6%), Louisiana (59.2%) and Wisconsin (59.1%).

California, which has recently implemented the strictest emissions regulations in the country, lags the national average at 51.6%, falling in the 35th spot. Data also shows that while the state is offering incentives to transition fleets to zero-emissions technology such as EVs, there are 125 times more new-generation advanced diesel trucks on the road in California than electric trucks.

“Nearly 7 million new-technology diesel trucks are on the roads, delivering our goods and services with near-zero emissions,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of DTF. “Nationwide, for every electric commercial truck on the road, there are nearly 1,100 powered by internal combustion engines.

“According to this most recent analysis, internal combustion engines (diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane) power about 99.91% of the nation’s trucking fleet. As the trucking industry explores new fuels, including all-electric and fuel cell technology, it is clear that diesel and other internal combustion engines are going to continue to play a dominant role for years to come.”

According to DTF, the next milestones for advanced diesel technology will further reduce NOx emissions by an 50% to 80% over current models. In December 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its strongest-ever national clean air standards to cut emissions from heavy-duty trucks, beginning with model year 2027. And in April of this year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a first-of-its-kind rule that requires a phased-in transition toward zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, with the transition starting in 2024.

As Schaeffer emphasized, decarbonization of the industry will take time and require many types of solutions for different sectors. “In the meantime, accelerating the turnover of the existing fleet, continued improvement of internal combustion engines and utilizing low-carbon renewable fuels is just as important as a zero-emission vehicle approach to help achieve meaningful progress toward climate goals.”

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