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BCTA pushed back against provincial plans for medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), based on the fact that the BC Government is not recognizing the operational realities of our province’s transportation sector.

The Province, as outlined in its B.C. Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicles: 2023 Consultation Paper (Consultation Paper), proposes to bring in a zero-emission vehicle sales mandate. While BCTA and its members are very supportive of establishing a low and zero-emission vehicle mandate, the one proposed by the Province is unachievable as 83.4% of our sector, due to operating range and vehicle weight, have no market-available zero emission vehicle option.

Class 3-8 sales targets under the BC plan would roll out from 2026 to 2036, when all new vehicles would need to be zero-emission models. All reefers would need to be electric by 2030, and fossil-fuel-powered forklifts would be phased out between 2028 and 2038.

The Consultation Paper goes further to mandate carriers operating transportation refrigeration units (TRUs) to convert to zero-emission TRUs starting 2026. Consistent with zero emission MHD vehicles, the zero emission TRU technology is still emerging. Presently, the maximum vehicle configuration where a zero emission TRU can be implemented is on a straight truck with a 28-foot box. At this time, no zero emission TRU exists for trailers. This mandate would force carriers into other jurisdictions, and will lead to increased kilometers driven and increased transportation costs, which get passed onto consumers.

The intent of the proposed measures is to help achieve transportation emission reduction targets of 27-32% by 2030 as outlined in the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. We believe that these targets are achievable if a plan is developed in collaboration with industry and focuses not only on zero-emission vehicles, but existing low and GHG reducing equipment that is currently market available. However, time to meet the 2030 targets is quickly slipping away. 

Based on a recent member survey, if the government proceeds with the proposed mandate, 81% of respondents said they are opposed to the ZEV mandate proposed by the province for MHD vehicle sales. Of those respondents, 68% would either maintain their older equipment for longer, and 15% will seek to turn their vehicles over quicker to newer diesel vehicles before the 2026 mandate. Simply put, the ZEV mandate proposed by the Province will further increase pressure on diesel fuel which will drive up emissions in our commercial transportation sector.

Over four-fifths of BC’s trucking industry does not have a market-ready ZEV option because of factors like duty cycles and allowable Canadian weights that are heavier than those in the US. ZEV heavy-duty vehicles are engineered to US maximum gross vehicle weight ratings of 36,500 kg rather than BC’s maximum of 63,500 kg that offer a 22% advantage in greenhouse gas emissions. Under the US weights, trucks generate 6.2 kg of carbon dioxide to move a tonne of freight 100 miles (160 km), compared to the 5.1 kg generated with the Canadian configurations.

While not every truck moves at maximum weights, this limitation ultimately means — using current technology and technology being developed (as not one manufacturer has a market-ready ZEV at Canadian weights) — our industry will need to double their fleet size to move the freight we currently do and require a commensurate number of drivers. Based on provincial weigh-in-motion scale data, 31.4% of commercial vehicles operating in BC exceed the 36,500 kg threshold which is the current maximum weight available for MHD zero emission vehicles.

Instead, BCTA is recommending targets based on market-ready technology and adjusted as new technologies become available, and that consider operational realities such as range, topography, and weights and are timed to reflect a comprehensive infrastructure plan. With 94% of our sector operating 10 or less trucks, having access to available charging and refueling stations is critical to the adoption of low- and zero-emission vehicles.

BCTA is also calling for expedited charging and refueling stations, tax credits and exemptions to accelerate turnover, extending the Scrap-It program to commercial vehicles with higher rebates for low- and zero-emitting vehicles, mandated idle management tools like cab heaters and coolers, and a long combination vehicle network between BC and Alberta.


Read the Bulletin Article BCTA has Significant Reservations with the Provincial Consultation Paper on Zero-Emission Solutions for Medium-and Heavy-duty Vehicles (June 19, 2023).

For more information on BCTA’s submission regarding the B.C. Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicles: 2023 Consultation Paper, please contact BCTA Vice President Cory Paterson.

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