Moving Zero-Emission Freight Toward Commercialization

Published Dec 2020

Global transportation systems have begun a shift to newer, cleaner technologies that will meet greenhouse gas emission reduction and air quality improvement goals that governments have developed or fleets have adopted. Zero-emission freight vehicles (ZEFVs) are already commercially available in leading markets – lighter platforms, such as electric cargo vans, have been deployed in China, the European Union, and the United States. With supportive policy ecosystems, manufacturers will advance from first-success “beachhead” applications to additional applications with increasingly rigorous duty cycles. Infrastructure investments and advancements will also be needed to support rapid growth in the ZEFV market.

This report explores:

  • How manufacturers, fleets, and governments are influencing ZEFV market trends;
  • The technological and financial viability of specific vehicle segments;
  • The impact of ZEFV uptake on energy providers and infrastructure;
  • How transformative technologies or financial approaches may support the ZEFV transition;
  • What governments and industry are doing to accelerate ZEFV adoption; and
  • How cities, states and provinces, and federal governments further accelerate ZEFV deployments and realize the benefits of clean freight.

The report finds that ZEFVs are rapidly emerging to become competitive in a broad spectrum of applications. Each of the modeled ZEFV segments is expected to achieve cost parity with diesel-powered vehicles by 2030, while combinations of regulations and incentives in leading markets will make operating ZEFVs easier compared to diesel-powered vehicles. Though ZEFV growth will occur at differing speeds and in unique segments across global regions, the transferability of components and policy momentum towards cleaner and safer freight systems will facilitate a large-scale transition to a zero-emission commercial transportation sector.

How do we reach our “drag and drop” goals for replacing polluting freight vehicles quicker and more efficiently? CALSTART’s Global Drive to Zero program and FIER Automotive hosted a webinar in December 2020 to share market trends, new technologies, and the actions that governments and industry can take to drive commercialization from its recently published analysis for the International ZEV Alliance. The report’s authors were joined by experts from the Netherlands and California to share real-world examples of their successes and by the International Transport Forum to share the findings from their new urban delivery and electric mobility report.


  • Dan Welch, Senior Project Manager, CALSTART
  • Rob Kroon, Project Manager, FIER Automotive
  • Sacha Scheffer, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Mobility, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, The Netherlands
  • Bill Robertson, Ph.D, Vehicle Program Specialist for Heavy Duty, California Air Resources Board
  • Pierpaolo Cazzola, Advisor for Energy, Technology, and Environmental Sustainability, International Transport Forum
Author: Dan Welch, Cristiano Façanha, Rob Kroon, Harm Weken, David Bruil, and Floris Jousma
Organization: CALSTART and FIER Automotive & Mobility
Regional focus: