2022 potentially marked a turning point for the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) market, with new EV car sales increasing by 65% over 2021 sales, and now accounting for nearly 6% of all new vehicle sales. (If EVs maintained a 65% annual growth rate, they would reach 100% of new vehicle sales in about 6 years.) But for medium and heavy duty vehicles, which produce an outsize share of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gasses, the transition to zero-emissions vehicles is still trying to gain traction. In 2021, electric vehicles accounted for about 1% of bus sales, and about 0.1% of all truck sales.
Battery electric vehicles could already replace about half of the freight trips completed each day in the U.S., so it is not technological readiness that is slowing EV adoption in the freight and large vehicle industry. Ray Minjares, Heavy-Duty Vehicles Program Director at the International Council on Clean Transportation, explains what is: the marketplace structure that dictates how freight vehicles are bought and sold. Ray sat down with Climate Now to examine how this marketplace works today, the policies and financing alternatives that could make zero-emission vehicles easier to adopt, and the climate and air quality impacts that would come with decarbonization of the trucking industry.