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Notorious traffic congestion, high operating costs, and chart-topping fuel prices make California one of the most challenging states to run a fleet. In 2024, the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation added a new level of complexity for fleet managers, with new rules and compliance requirements to navigate. Enforcement delays prompted by California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s EPA waiver request only further complicated the situation. 
 
However, fleet managers have the opportunity to turn a compliance issue into a strategic imperative to future-proof their fleet operations for years to come and actually save money for the business while doing it. 

20221108 Dustin Aksland Fleet Rcv 04641 D4mmrvWhat is Advanced Clean Fleets? 

ACF is an ambitious initiative, driven by California’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. In the simplest terms, it is a mandate for businesses to transition their internal combustion fleet (ICE) to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).  
 
Introduced by CARB in 2023, ACF sets stringent targets for the adoption of ZEVs that requires fleet owners to gradually replace a percentage of their existing fleet vehicles with ZEVs, with specific milestones and compliance deadlines tailored to different vehicle categories and fleet sizes. This includes vehicles such as trucks, buses, and vans, pivotal in both public and private sectors.  

Regulation Components for Fleets

  • Drayage Trucks 
    All drayage trucks registering for the first time in California through the CARB TRUCRS system must operate a zero-emission powertrain. Initial reporting was due January 1, 2024, but the EPA waiver decision has temporarily put this on hold. 
  • State and Local Government Fleets 
    Beginning January 1, 2024, 50% of additions to fleet in each calendar year must be ZEV medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Government fleets are not impacted by the EPA waiver delay. 
  • High Priority Private and Federal Fleets 
    Originally slated to start January 1, 2024, with an initial reporting due February 1, 2024, fleets are now waiting to see whether CARB will require retroactive reporting from February or start once the waiver request is approved. Once an answer is made, fleets have two pathways for compliance beginning in 2025: 

    • PATHWAY 1 – MODEL YEAR SCHEDULE TIMELINE  
      As of January 1, 2024, fleets must only purchase ZEV or NZEV and remove ICE at end of life (18 years or 800k miles). Registration of all vehicles starts Jan. 2024 in the TRUCRS system.
    • PATHWAY 2 – ZERO-EMISSION MILESTONE TIMELINE  
      ZEV percentage milestones as determined by preset vehicle groups. Registration of all vehicles starts Jan. 2024 in the TRUCRS system with baseline due Feb. 2024. Fleets can add ICE vehicles to their fleet if ZEV percentage milestones are hit.  

What Constitutes a High Priority Private or Federal Fleet?   Rm024 057pm
High priority private and federal fleets are entities that own, operate, or direct at least one vehicle in California, and that have either $50 million or more in gross annual revenues, or that own, operate, or have common ownership or control of a total of 50 or more vehicles (to include light-duty package delivery vehicles).
 

What Can Happen if a Fleet Ignores the ACF Regulation? 
Failure to comply with ACF could result in fines of up to $10,000 per non-compliant vehicle, per day and operational restrictions. Some companies are even rejecting contracts with non ACF-compliant fleets. 

 
ACF Benefits are Hiding in Plain Sight  

For fleets operating in California, compliance with ACF is not just a regulatory necessity but a gateway to numerous benefits. By embracing ZEVs, fleet operators can: 

  • Reduce Operating Costs: ZEVs generally have lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to conventional vehicles, offering long-term savings.
  • Access Incentives: CARB provides various incentives, including grants and subsidies, to support the adoption of ZEVs, easing the financial burden of fleet upgrades. For example, through the end of 2024, fleets can take advantage of the $156 million in available HVIP funding vouchers to help become ACF compliant – saving anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000+ per vehicle purchased! Time is running out to take advantage of this funding, and fleets should be placing orders by the early fall to ensure their orders have time to process.
  • Enhance Public Image: Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can improve brand reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers and partners. 
     

How the EPA Waiver Request Further Complicated ACF 

Despite its potential benefits, the full implementation of ACF has encountered a significant hurdle in the form of an EPA waiver request. Recently, there has been controversy surrounding California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver, which allows the state to enforce its own vehicle emissions standards. The EPA’s delay in granting this waiver has created uncertainty and complexity for fleet managers, delaying the rollout of key ACF mandates. 

The waiver request delay is rooted in legal and political challenges, reflecting broader debates over federal versus state authority in environmental regulation. This regulatory limbo has left fleet managers in a difficult position, unsure of the timeline and requirements they must meet to achieve compliance. 

 

Operate Outside of California? ACF Still Matters to Your Fleet 

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While ACF is specific to California, its implications extend beyond state borders, influencing fleet management practices nationwide. Several factors contribute to this broader impact: 

  • Market Influence on Regulations: California’s sizeable market and stringent environmental regulations often set trends that other states eventually adopt. Fleet managers outside California may anticipate similar regulatory shifts in their own jurisdictions, and as 11 states are making moves toward adopting ACF (or a similar style of regulation), proactive adjustments might be needed sooner than later.
  • Enhanced Business Opportunities: Many fleet operations serve interstate routes or have business ties with California-based entities. Some CA organizations have already started to reject bids from companies that are not compliant with ACF. Adhering to the regulation for businesses outside of CA can become a competitive advantage anywhere sustainable practices are prioritized.

Inspiration Mobility can help your fleet stay informed with the ACF waiver decision. Our complimentary ACF Risk Assessment allows fleet managers to easily learn if and how the regulation will impact their fleet and start on the path to building out an electrification strategy.  
 
With Inspiration’s full suite of EV fleet management and vehicle leasing services, including access to incentives like HVIP, now is the most affordable time for your fleet to become ACF compliant.  

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