With some drayage trucking capacity set to disappear in California by the end of the year, the state announced earlier this month the next steps it plans to take to achieve a fleet of fully zero-emission drayage by 2035.
The most pressing change that came at the end of this year is that drayage trucks made with a 2007 through 2009 engine year model will no longer be allowed to operate in ports and yards across the state. Engines prior to this year were already banned.
Separately, the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) latest proposal would establish a phase-out of older trucks through a schedule and mileage approach. All of this indicates that the goal of sunsetting the internal combustion engine in drayage in about 13 years, under the state’s Clean Fleet Rule, is being met.
The most pressing question about the end-of-year engine phase-out between the 2007 and 2009 model years is what this will mean for drayage capability.
What is a drayage truck? CARB, in material it prepared for a recent webinar, described it as a 26,000+ pound highway vehicle that breaches California’s seaports and rail yards.
The magnitude of impending capacity loss could be considered easy to calculate. But when you dig into the numbers, the issue is more complex.
While the rule will impact the entire state, attention will inevitably turn to the massive ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Port of LA, in a recent presentation, identified the number of trucks that used the two ports that would also fall under the 2007-2009 ban: 1,925 with an ’07 engine, 2,279 with a ‘ 08 and 1314 with an ’09. Adding all the vehicles listed by the port’s capacity document gives a number just under 20,900. The number of vehicles to be removed from capacity would be around 26% to 27%.
But the port also lists the frequency of visits by engine year, which reveals that not all trucks are created equal.
For example, of the 1,925 engines in 2007, only 135 are listed as frequent visitors to the port. An infrequent truck is defined as making less than 10 average trips per week. Between 10 and 20 movements are “semi-frequent” and more than 20 are “frequent”. Frequent visitors with 2008 engines totaled 179 vehicles and with 2009 it was 106.
Thus, measuring a loss of capacity solely by the number of trucks may be quantitatively simple, but it is more complicated on a qualitative basis.
For a truck with an engine of this vintage, there is a way for the driver to avoid the regulations, at least for a little while: buy a new or used vehicle, even if it will not be delivered by the early 2023.
Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents drayage truck operators in the LA/Long Beach port complex, said the rule is structured so that as long as drayage truck owners can present proof of purchase orders for new trucks by the end of the year they can continue to run their 2007 to 2009 engines. There is no deadline on how quickly the truck needs to be delivered after that.
Drayage ability after new rule remains a question
With these hard facts in hand, the question remains: what will be the impact on capacity?
Schrap noted that an important factor is the strength of the freight market in 2023. “We could see a downturn soon, so it could coincide with that,” he said in an interview with FreightWaves. “Maybe it becomes a washout.”
He also expressed optimism that other vehicles were ready to step in and fill in the lost capacity. “We have a good number of vehicles that are compliant,” Schrap said. “Will they be able to meet the demand? Probably not as quickly out of the gate. Does this have an impact on rotation times? »
And those companies or operators with older engines couldn’t resist, according to Schrap. “Some vehicles have been removed from this category and replaced with later model years,” he said.
“On the one hand, you have a loss of capacity,” Schrap said in a kind of landscape summary. Discussing the loss of capacity, he noted that it still leaves over 70% of existing capacity in place.
“Will they be able to take over? Schrap said. “I believe so. But will this cause longer delays in recovering this cargo?
A delay in the rule will not occur
One thing that won’t happen is a delay in menstruation. During a recent webinar hosted by the Harbor Trucking Association for its members, Schrap posted a recent email from a CARB official.
“We don’t anticipate any general delays for drayage trucks,” Cari Anderson, a CARB official, wrote in an email to Schrap. “As you know, the [current] the drayage rule expires at the end of this year and these trucks will then have to comply with the [state’s] Regulation of trucks and buses. It is this rule that requires the phasing out of engines before the 2010 model year.
Schap said during the webinar that he was posting the email to counter chatter he had heard “in the field” that there was going to be a delay. “I think they’re going to stick to their guns on this one.”
The rule for 2007-2009 vehicles is not new. It’s been on the books since 2006, Schrap noted.
As the drayage rule looms for the end of the year, this is only part of the
continue efforts within the framework of the Clean Fleets Rule which guides the actions of the State.
Existing trucks face 13-year, 800,000-mile delay
The next major settlement facing the drayage community was released earlier this month. Like phasing out engines before 2009, steps must be taken to move the drayage community towards the ultimate plan of having only zero-emission vehicles in the drayage community by 2035.
This 2035 rule is considered phase two of the state requirements. The first phase is a multi-step process designed to eventually get older, dirtier engines off the road under the state’s “useful life” definition.
One requirement is shorter-term: new trucks entering the system after January 1, 2024 must be zero-emission vehicles, i.e. battery- or hydrogen-powered.
But for existing trucks, there are several new rules after the start of 2024 that govern their “useful life.”
All trucks must visit a seaport or intermodal station at least once a year to stay in compliance with drayage law. If a truck fails to meet this requirement, it is thrown out of the database of acceptable vehicles maintained by CARB.
Over the years, other vehicles will be removed from the system.
New regulations introduced earlier this month cap all drayage truck engines at 800,000 miles, with a maximum of 18 years from the year of the engine allowed to be listed in the state drayage registry . So if a truck after 18 had only driven 700,000 miles, it would still be removed from the registry once it is recorded in the system as having reached 18. If it reached 800,000 miles before the 18-year window, it would also be deleted.
If a truck is still on the road 13 years past its engine’s model year, the owner must begin reporting total mileage to CARB annually. If the 800,000 mile limit is registered before 13 years, even without a declaration, the truck is deregistered.
Schrap said drayage trucks that tend to move relatively close to a port or yard typically travel between 35,000 and 40,000 miles per year. Drayage trucks that travel further afield, like from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in California’s Inland Empire, can rack up 70,000 to 80,000 miles.
What if a company wants to buy a zero-emission vehicle but is put off by the list price, which can easily reach $400,000? The state may be able to help.
Its hybrid and zero-emission truck and bus coupon incentive scheme, in its latest offering, has about $40 million available for the purchase of zero-emission drayage vehicles. The program’s latest offering has just under $200 million available in total, beyond drayage, with the rest of that money going to public and school buses. The latest offer started in March.
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