Drive to Zero Newsletter – April 2021

Dear Drive to Zero Pledge Partners and Allies:

On Earth Week it’s important to remember that there is no Plan B for our planet (as much as I love sci-fi), and that we are running out of time. The future of our transportation systems needs to be zero emissions, and there should be no compromise. Although low-emission or near-zero technologies can bring near-term benefits and do have their role, their long-term effectiveness is questionable given engine deterioration and levels of real-world non-compliance. For example, recent data from CARB indicates how natural gas engines consistently exceed emission limits in the real world, especially as limits get more stringent. The same is true for diesel engines, even those with the latest emission controls. Although zero-emission technologies currently cost more, new innovative finance models can offset higher capital costs. Our recently published finance paper addresses the role of public funds to catalyze private sector investment in commercial fleet electrification. To begin, government agencies should serve as “First-Loss Protection Providers” (FLPPs) to target the most oft-cited financing barrier for zero-emission commercial vehicles (ZECVs) – residual value risk. Policymakers can also provide clear market direction through regulations such as California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule, and through vehicle and infrastructure incentives, as California has done with their HVIP and EnergIIZE programs, respectively. Policy can also help monetize environmental attributes, such as allowing fleets to borrow against future revenues from market mechanisms like a low-carbon fuel standard, or even better, a carbon tax. As we gear up for COP-26 at the end of this year, it’s time to raise our level of ambition and lay the foundation for a zero-emission transportation system.

– Cristiano Façanha, Global Director, CALSTART/Drive to Zero

Drive to Zero Program Progress and Updates

Webinar and Report: Introducing the Global EV Outlook 2021

The International Energy Agency and CALSTART/Drive to Zero will share the findings from the IEA’s Global EV Outlook 2021. Join us on April 29 at 19:00 (CEST) / 10:00 (PDT) for international market, policy, and technology highlights on zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, ranging from light- to heavy duty. (LINK)

Taking Commercial Vehicle Fleet Electrification to Scale: Financing Barriers and Solutions

Despite strong and growing policy and consumer momentum toward their adoption, barriers remain and are impeding the growth of the zero-emission commercial vehicle (ZECV) segment. A new CALSTART White Paper, “Taking Commercial Fleet Electrification to Scale” offers structured guidance on how to catalyze ZECV markets and unlock the needed capital to finance fleet electrification. (LINK)

RouteZero: global platform launches to raise ambition on zero emission vehicles ahead of COP-26

The Drive to Zero campaign joins pledge partner The Climate Group and other partner organizations to launch RouteZero, a global platform to call for ambitious commitments to zero-emission vehicle adoption ahead of the UN climate change summit, COP-26. RouteZero covers all motorized road vehicle segments, including cars, vans, buses, medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks, as well as two- and three-wheelers. The platform’s goal is to increase commitments from players in leading markets by profiling concrete initiatives and steps taken along the value chain. (LINK)

California to Unveil $50 Million Initiative to Accelerate Charging and Refueling for Zero-Emission Trucks and Buses

Administered by CALSTART, the EnergIIZE Commercial Vehicles (Energy Infrastructure Incentives for Zero-Emission Commercial Vehicles) project will use a concierge-like model working directly with eligible applicants to help plan and fund the purchase of charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The $50 million-dollar multi-year EnergIIZE project will help communities most impacted by transportation-related pollution by meeting essential infrastructure needs of companies and public agencies committed to replacing old, polluting equipment with clean battery-electric and hydrogen options. (LINK)

California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) Prepared to Relaunch

HVIP is anticipated to open to new voucher requests in late spring 2021 with more than $100 million available in new and recycled funding. In preparation, HVIP has launched a revamped website with an updated vehicle catalog, resources for purchasers and sellers, and more. The FY20-21 Implementation Manual and dealer training will be provided before HVIP re-opens. (LINK)

Webinar on Fleet Decarbonization: Power Planning presented by Black & Veatch

Join experts from charging infrastructure developer Black & Veatch on April 28 from 11:00 – 12:00 PDT to learn about: operational considerations that affect vehicle selection and infrastructure planning, the importance of site selection and utility coordination, how to plan for clean energy needs, and building in back-up power and long-term resilience. (LINK)

News Updates

Amid all of our program updates, we only have a short space to highlight some quick-hit news updates. Buckle up!

  • The new Biden administration’s proposed U.S. $2 trillion infrastructure package will spend up to $174 million on transportation electrification. The proposal includesincentives for public charging stations, electrified transit and school buses, electrified federal fleet vehicles, and domestic battery production. A bipartisan coalition of 12 state governors has requested that the administration develop consistent federal support to accelerate ZEV growth, including “Setting standards for [MHDVs] and supporting complementary policies such as purchase incentives and infrastructure investments, that set a path towards 100% zero-emission sales by no later than 2045 with significant milestones along the way to monitor progress.”
  • Battery manufacturing costs, which currently result in a higher typical vehicle purchase price than diesel-powered vehicles, are predicted by UC Berkeley to drop sufficiently to create cost parity between the technologies by 2035. The Stockholm Environment Institute argues that with sufficient high-powered charging, however, heavy-duty electric commercial vehicles could be much closer to a cost-competitive tipping point due to smaller battery packs.
  • More affordable, green hydrogen would also support the transition to zero-emission commercial transportation applications. The Chilean government has identified about 40 hydrogen fuel cell projects in local industries, such as mining, and will award $50 million in subsidies this year to reduce the cost of green hydrogen electrolysis and scale up production.

Reach out to us to share new information, potential partners, and innovative practices to achieve our Drive to Zero goals at, and please feel free to share this newsletter with others. The updates described above and additional news stories are linked below.

Dan Welch, Senior Project Manager, CALSTART

News Links

Events / Reports

  • How China put nearly 5 million new energy vehicles on the road in one decade (LINK)
  • Electric trucks may soon challenge diesel if charging hurdle cleared, study shows (LINK)
  • Plummeting costs and dramatic improvements in batteries can accelerate our clean transportation future (LINK)


  • Heavy-duty electrification set to revolutionize the electric power sector (LINK)
  • Four things every utility, fleet and energy regulator should know about heavy-duty truck charging (LINK)
  • How Can Electric Trucks Draft off the Success of Passenger EVs? (LINK)
  • Why it’s time to electrify medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (LINK)

 Fleet Deployments

  • Fluid Truck orders 40 additional electric trucks from Lightning eMotors; supporting IKEA last-mile delivery in NYC (LINK)
  • IKEA to electrify last-mile delivery in Canada with Lion Electric (LINK)

Manufacturers and Models: Trucks and Buses

  • Renault plans for electric truck in each segment by 2023 (LINK)
  • Mercedes expands eSprinter production (LINK)
  • Farizon AD21 Defies the Tesla Semi Truck with Battery Swapping (LINK)
  • Safra & Symbio to make 1,500 fuel cell buses in France (LINK)
  • Switch Mobility announces new structure to support global expansion in zero-emission transport (LINK)

Manufacturers and Models: Port Equipment and Off-Road

  • Northvolt is digging into construction market (LINK)
  • Two new electric excavators from Liebherr (LINK)

Financial Incentives

  • Giant Copper Mines Start to Get Serious About Green Hydrogen (Chile) (LINK)

Government Policies

  • Biden’s Push for Electric Cars: $174 Billion, 10 Years and a Bit of Luck (LINK)
  • Pathways to Carbon-Neutral NYC: Modernize, Reimagine, Reach (LINK)

Fuels & Infrastructure

  • Ekoenergetyka developing utility vehicle chargers (LINK)
  • Making the EU fuel infrastructure law fit for trucks (LINK)

 Batteries & Technology

  • ABB and Amazon Web Services steer fleets to an all-electric future (LINK)
  • BYD to start selling in-vehicle batteries to other companies (LINK)
  • VW clears next $100Mn for QuantumScape’s solid-state tech (LINK)


  • Transport could burn up the EU’s entire carbon budget (LINK)