On June 25, California regulators will vote on a first-of-its-kind rule that would require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero emissions vehicles.

On the eve of that vote, CARB Board member Dan Sperling talked to FreightWaves about the “tremendous innovation” in trucking, his sympathy for industry players juggling uncertainties and upfront costs and why a “trucking czar” might make the clean truck transition much easier.

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California air quality regulators are poised to rev up the state’s electric truck industry. On June 25, the Air Resources Board is expected to approve the nation’s first electric truck sales mandate, which would require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero emissions vehicles. By 2035, about 60% of all medium and heavy-duty trucks sold in the state would be electric vehicles.

Response from the trucking industry has been less than enthusiastic, with sentiment ranging from outright opposition to concern about lack of charging infrastructure, incentives and other programs that would help boost demand and bring down costs of fleet electrification.

Ahead of the historic vote, FreightWaves spoke to CARB board member Dan Sperling, a professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.  He talked about the “tremendous innovation” in trucking, his sympathy for industry players juggling uncertainties and high upfront costs and why a “trucking czar” might make the transition to clean truck technology much easier. (Interview excerpts have been edited for length and clarity.)

FreightWaves: One of the top concerns for industry, of course, is the upfront cost associated with electric trucks, the cost for the manufacturer and the cost to the fleet owner.

Sperling: The regulation is putting a cost burden on the manufacturer, but look at what’s happening
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