What cities need to know about the Advanced Clean Fleet rule

Nov 29, 2023

After years of debate, public hearings, and regulatory proceedings, California’s Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The rule is the latest effort by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to protect the health and well-being of Californians by improving air quality and mitigating the harm posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

How this rule will affect a city’s fleet depends on how that fleet operates. The regulatory language divides motor carriers into three categories: high-priority and federal fleets, drayage fleets, and state and local government fleets.

What do I need to do and by when?

State and local government fleets have an acquisition requirement, rather than a fleet composition requirement. Between 2024 and 2026, half of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles acquired by state or local governments must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV). These are class 2b-8 trucks over 8,500 pounds, such as street sweepers, cement trucks, or SUVs. In 2027, that mandate increases to 100%.

Until 2035, cities may purchase near-zero emissions vehicles if no ZEVs are available. Some designated counties also have a three-year exemption. Local governments are not required to remove existing internal combustion engine vehicles from these fleets, so the forced retirement of older vehicles is not necessary.

Cities must also focus on constructing the infrastructure needed to fuel these vehicles, even if they do not plan to purchase new vehicles in the near future. Coordinating with utilities, identifying property to transform into a refueling station, and engaging general contractors can be costly and time-consuming. These projects can, and often do, take several months to a few years to complete. Cities need to act now to maintain compliance.

Is there a reporting requirement?

The new rule requires cities to report on their fleet inventories to CARB. Cities must submit the initial annual report by April 1, 2024, and within 30 days of adding vehicles to their fleet. This report includes general agency information, such as:

  • Vehicle information.
  • Vehicle identification number, make, model, model year, weight class, and body type.
  • Fuel and drivetrain type.
  • Date bid awarded, date purchase made, and date vehicle received.

Cities may also need to provide certain records to CARB or any other state agency for compliance purposes on request. These are basic records, such as vehicle registration, vehicle information, purchase documents, and so forth.

Are there any exceptions?

While earlier iterations of this mandate were draconian, the League of California Cities successfully fought for and secured several waivers and extensions, including:

  • ZEV milestone option flexibility pathway until 2030.
  • Near-zero emission vehicle flexibility until 2035 if ZEVs are unavailable.  
  • ZEV infrastructure delay exemption.
  • ZEV purchase exemption.
  • ZEV infrastructure construction extension for two years.
  • ZEV infrastructure site electrification extension, up to three years until 2030.

Notably, emergency vehicles are exempt from the new rule. The term “emergency vehicles” (defined in California Vehicle Code (CVC) 165) applies to electricity, natural gas, water, and wastewater service providers. Exemptions are limited to 25% of the total fleet for that city.

Lower populated municipalities with fewer than 10 medium-to-heavy duty vehicles and designated counties are exempt from the regulations until 2027. Since these agencies tend to have fewer vehicles in their fleets, operate in remote areas, and have more limited budgets, CARB expects it to take longer for zero-emission infrastructure and support networks to be developed in those regions.

Enacting these rules, even with increased flexibility, will not be easy. Cal Cities is planning to help introduce legislation aimed at creating additional waivers and extensions, as well as budgetary investments to help local municipalities navigate and comply with this mandate.

How to get even better informed

For more information about the Advance Clean Fleet rule, including grant resources, please review the following sources:

For questions about the Advance Clean fleet regulations, contact Cal Cities Legislative Representative Damon Conklin