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Small Fleet Operators Need Incentives & Information to Overcome Reluctance to Transitioning to Electric Vehicles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dream Corp Warns Going Electric May Be an Uphill Battle for Small Fleet Trucks

Oakland, CA – Today, Dream Corps Green For All released a reportTaking Charge: Supporting Small Fleets in the Transition to Zero-Emission Trucks.” The report details the roadblocks and opportunities for small fleet trucks to move to zero emissions. The report primarily focuses on small fleets with a keen interest in minority-owned fleets to address a critical gap in the literature and the conversation about truck electrification. 

Through interviews, a digital survey, and a literature review, the report reveals perceptions and existing knowledge small fleets already have about Zero Emission Trucks (ZETs), the anticipated barriers to electrification, promising solutions, and the best processes to intentionally engage small fleets in shaping ZET policies and programs. This report was funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) and produced in collaboration with CALSTART.

Green For All’s “Taking Charge” findings include widespread but surface-level awareness of Zero Emission Trucks in the small fleet trucking industry, large fleet advantages in ZET transition, the need to prioritize workers and training, adoption constraints due to financial barriers, and small fleet owners needing ZET reliability to, for instance, minimize contract loss. In addition, the report finds that ZET charging presents a key barrier for small fleet owners and that minority fleet owners face additional challenges adopting ZETs, such as access to loans and capital.

Ryan Young, Policy Director of Green For ALL, said, “Investing in a Zero-Emission Truck is a tricky proposition for fleet owners who rely on a small number of trucks to carry out their business operations, especially if they lack backup vehicles. If we want to support small fleets to move to zero-emission, legislators, agency officials, and advocates must closely examine the impact that this transition will have on contract truck drivers, small fleets, and minority-owned fleets who face the greatest challenges in adopting ZETs.

The report quotes one small fleet owner who said, “If I have a personal car and it’s electric, and something goes wrong with it, I can rent a car, or I can have a secondary car that I can drive, but this is our livelihood. You can’t have somebody put all his eggs in one basket into this new technology that they haven’t seen.”

Green For All recommends the following actions to address concerns: invest in tailored solutions, reduce risk and enhance profitability for small fleets, promote small fleet autonomy, streamline and simplify support programs, utilize the voices of truck drivers and small fleets (such as solicit and incorporate their perspectives when formulating policies and programs), and prioritize information accessibility.

Green For All identified some opportunities to expand access to knowledge, vehicles, and financing solutions to promote small fleet self-reliance for the long haul. For instance, access to sources such as the CalCAP Heavy Duty Vehicle Air Quality Loan Program.  The CalCAP loan loss reserve program is operated by the California Pollution Control Financing Authority to ensure lenders that offer loans to small businesses when purchasing cleaner heavy-duty vehicles. 

Niki Okuk, Deputy Director of Trucks & Off-Road with CALSTART, said, “Large fleets and truck makers have been testing electric trucks for years, these demonstrations have produced a whole generation of trucks which are now ready for prime time with the hardest working people in the industry: small businesses. This year the California HVIP project will have special set asides, additional resources, and innovative financing options for small fleets. It will be a valuable time to learn how we help small businesses save money and future proof their fleets.”

Green For All identified some opportunities to expand access to knowledge, vehicles, and financing solutions to promote small fleet self-reliance for the long haul, including:

  • Open access to ZET maintenance information
  • Improve ZET affordability
  • Expand the ZET secondary market 
  • Grow financial literacy and promote favorable financing

Young added, “Not all trucking businesses are equipped to transition smoothly to Zero-Emission Trucks. To truly unlock the environmental and economic benefits of ZETs, policymakers must tailor incentives and solutions to meet the needs of small fleets.”  

About Green For All

Green For All is a program of the national social justice nonprofit Dream Corps. Green For All works at the intersection of environmental, economic, and social justice movements to build a more equitable and greener economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Learn more about our work at greenforall.org

Through the Fuel Change campaign, Green For All has advocated for years to advance the adoption of cleaner cars, trucks, and buses for communities most disproportionately impacted by transportation pollution and limited access to quality mobility options. Through research, strategic storytelling, and policy advocacy, we work to ensure that clean transportation policies advance both pollution reduction and economic justice. In the context of trucks, equitable electrification must ensure the health and economic benefits for truck drivers, communities living adjacent to ports, busy freeways and distribution centers, and small and minority-owned trucking businesses. This is one way we are working to ensure a future that is green for all and not just for some.

Funding for this Report

This report was funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) and produced in collaboration with CALSTART. CALSTART works with its member companies and agencies to build a high-tech clean-transportation industry that creates jobs, cuts air pollution and oil imports, and curbs climate change. CALSTART works with the public and private sectors to overcome barriers to innovation and progress and drive the transportation industry to a clean and prosperous future.

Media Contact:
Ben Suarato: [email protected]

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