Diesel Technology Forum: More than half of commercial diesel trucks are near-zero emissions

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Updated Jul 13, 2023
A large infographic explaining the growth in advanced technology diesel commercial vehicles.

The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) found that the number of new, near-zero emission diesel trucks jumped 10.2% between 2021 and 2022, now making up 57% of the commercial truck population. 

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Near-zero emissions trucks are advanced diesel trucks manufactured after 2010, DTF says. Advanced diesel trucks are equipped with particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems that achieve near-zero levels of emissions. 

"Nearly 7 million new technology diesel trucks are on the roads, delivering our goods and services with near-zero emissions," says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of DTF. "Nationwide, for every electric commercial truck on the road, there are nearly 1,100 powered by internal combustion engines." 

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More than 95% of the Class 8 trucks made in 2010 and later model years are advanced diesel technology. Around 2% are compressed natural gas (CNG), less than 1% are electric and the rest are gasoline or other fuels. For the Class 3-8 truck population, which is more than 15 million vehicles, 75.6% are powered by diesel, 22.9% are powered by gasoline, 0.46% run on CNG, 0.85% run on some other fuel, and 0.09% are electric.

Schaeffer says according to the most recent analysis, internal combustion engines power 99.91% of the nation's trucking fleet, showing that even as the industry explores new fuel options, diesel will still play a dominant role. 

"Decarbonizing the economy will take time and require many different types of solutions for different sectors," Schaeffer says. "There isn't a one-size or one-fuel fits all answer. In the meantime, accelerating the turnover of the existing fleet, continued improvement of internal combustion engines and utilizing low-carbon renewable fuels is just as important as a zero emission vehicle approach to help achieve meaningful progress toward climate goals."  

Illinois has the fastest-growing number of registrations of new advanced diesel technology Class 8 commercial trucks, up 4.6% as of December 2022 when compared to 2021. Neighboring state Indiana ranks first for the highest percentage of near-zero emissions diesel trucks (73.2%), followed by Utah; Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Texas; Oklahoma; Florida; Illinois; Louisiana and Wisconsin. 

There are 125 times more near-zero emissions diesel trucks on the road in California than electric trucks, DTF says. California ranks 35th in the number of near-zero emissions trucks (51.6%). DTF says that the next generation of diesel engines, spurred by California and EPA regulations, will further reduce NOx emissions by 50-80% over current models. 

The California Air Resources Board disputes DTF's data, saying it has records that indicate more than 76.1% of California-registered Class 3-8 vehicles are 2011 model year or newer with advanced emissions technology. It says it got its figures from January California DMV and International Registration Plan registries of trucks and buses that travel in the state, and that the figures go up to 85.6% when using IRP's California apportionment. 

This story was updated with CARB comment on July 13, 2023. 

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