Biggest US Cities Aim to Drive to Zero

Drive to Zero Pledge Partners New York and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the United States, have just announced aggressive new plans to turn their respective municipal fleets into zero-emissions fleets.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an order requiring that the city’s entire municipal fleet of more than 20,000 on-road vehicles, ranging from trucks to buses to ferries, must be plug-in electric by 2040. Electric vehicles currently account for 8.5 percent of the total municipal fleet. The State of New York, which operates the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City, is supporting the transition by investing over $1.1 billion to grow its electric bus fleet, adding 500 such buses by 2024. The transit authority is already running electric buses on some of its longest routes in Manhattan.

In parallel, Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti just advanced LA’s Green New Deal, which contains a zero-emission procurement policy for all municipal vehicles, from light- to heavy-duty. Under the policy, when Los Angeles municipal fleet managers replace or purchase a vehicle for use by the city, fleet managers must choose a qualifying zero-emission vehicle whenever such an option exists. Since light-duty electric vehicles are in abundance at this time, the City of Los Angeles’s passenger car fleet will begin going all-electric by 2021. Mayor Garcetti’s announcement will also require all departments to perform an immediate review and assessment of infrastructure and interconnections to accelerate ZEV adoption. The city is exploring ways to improve public and active transportation while developing a congestion pricing feasibility report by the end of the year.

In advance of adopting these zero-emission fleet policies, the City of Los Angeles and the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (NYC DCAS) demonstrated their commitment to promoting and adopting advanced, zero-emission technologies in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sector by becoming signatories of CALSTART’s Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero (Drive to Zero) program. Drive to Zero is a strategic international initiative designed to catalyze the growth of the zero-emission (ZE) and near-zero-emission (NZ) medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sector (MHDV). Drive to Zero unites key regions of change, along with leading manufacturers and fleet users, to collaboratively speed adoption through requirements, policies, incentives, investments and infrastructure that support early market success. Pledge and organizing partners promise to collaboratively put in place supporting mechanisms to speed the early market for zero- and near-zero emission trucks, buses and equipment.

Drive to Zero’s goal is to drive market viability for the MHDV sector in key urban communities, like New York City and Los Angeles, by 2025 and achieve full market penetration by 2040. It is built upon a technology strategy, called the beachhead strategy, that identifies the commercial vehicle market segments where zero- and near-zero technology is likely to succeed first. Those early successes drive pathways into new segments where the technology can flourish next.